Artist Preksha Lal, 27, has always been deeply influenced by the town of Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, where the Buddha first taught the lesson of Dharma.
Now, she will exhibit a series of 80 paintings on the life of Gautama Buddha, from December 13 to 19 at the Hirji gallery at the Jehangir art gallery, Kala Ghoda.
Lal spent four of her childhood years in Sarnath when her father, a government employee, was posted in Varanasi.
"We would go there every weekend. I have the images of Sarnath inscribed in my mind," says Lal.
In her paintings, she portrays various stages of Buddha's life, such as his renunciation of worldly life to attain Nirvana, and his first sermon.
Lal has also painted important Buddhist sites such as the Sanchi stupa in Madhya Pradesh, Sarnath and the Buddhist goddess Tara for the exhibition.
"It took me three years to paint this series," she says.
Lal's artistic imagination was fuelled by the many stories of Buddha she heard from her grandfather, who is a follower of the religion. A history student, she also conducted intensive research to get a deeper understanding of the Buddha's life and teachings.
"These paintings are an attempt to capture the myriad emotions and the glorious events of his life," says Lal.
She has used various tools, such as a knife, blades and tree leaves, to render texture to her paintings.
These works were earlier shown at the India Habitat Centre in June and at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in November, both in Delhi.
Lal was born and brought up in Lucknow and has received no formal training in art. Her tryst with art began when she was eight. "I would sketch and make portraits. My interest in art grew over the years," she says.
In 2005, she and a few friends from an art hobby class decided to show their works in a group exhibition at Jaipur. Lal says, "My works were appreciated by many people and good reviews of my work encouraged me to continue painting. Thereafter, I had another group show in Lucknow, followed by six solo shows in Lucknow and Delhi."
Mumbai plays host to her seventh show. "I am excited about showing my works at the Jehangir art gallery. I have heard that it is one of the most important art galleries in the country and I am looking forward to a positive response from people here," she says.