2022 begins with the spotlight on artist and OCAC member, Dr. Nitin Banwar, a self-taught artist of Indian origin, a retired orthopedic surgeon, and resident of Canandaigua.
Nitin’s work has evolved over the years into a contemporary, figurative and highly expressive style. Having had no formal training in art, he writes, “I have evolved my own style of fusing drawings, cutouts, and collage.” He works in a variety of materials, including hardboard, mat-board, plywood and natural wood and stone. He combines these materials to create collages and surfaces on which he draws to create visually striking compositions with flowing layers, lines and colors.
Nitin’s work is strongly influenced by art and mythology from around the world. He has family in Australia, India, Sweden and the U.S., and his art reflects the cultural diversity of his family's experience. My father,” Nitin writes, “was in the Indian Navy, therefore our family moved frequently in India, that most diverse and ancient of cultures. This exposed us to multiple cultures and lifestyles while we were quite young.” His artwork fuses elements of art and myth from his Indian heritage and a diverse set of other traditions, in what he calls, “his personal cultural odyssey between the east and the west.“ The influences of Indian art, Japanese prints, Australian Aboriginal painting, American indigenous art, and indigenous sculpture from Africa, South Asia and Oceania are strongly evident in his work.
Educated in medicine in India, he completed his training in the U.S. in orthopedic surgery after briefly living in Sweden. Nitin worked as a young freelance artist while in Europe and when he first arrived in the U.S. in 1975. While waiting for his green card, he worked in a gallery and frame shop in Atlanta, Georgia. “Those years,” he writes, “were the most influential on my artistic career. I was the proverbial starving artist.” It was while working in the frame shop, and unable to buy art supplies, that he began to use discarded materials such as matboard and plywood. These same materials, as well as found objects and inspiration from nature, and his reading in art and mythology, continue to drive his creativity.
Nitin’s creative work provided him an important subjective counterbalance to the objective demands of his three-decade career as a reconstructive orthopedic surgery in Clifton Springs, Geneva and Newark. “My art,” he writes, “is my creative counterbalance to the objectivity in my personal and my professional life.” Yet the precision of his surgical work is evident in much of his artwork, and explicitly so in a series of abstract pieces inspired by the industrial design of hip and knee replacements he did in collaboration with the Rochester-based artist, A. J. Dungan.
Nitin first exhibited his work in a one-person show at the Gallery at the Arts & Cultural Council of Rochester in 2013, and then again in 2015 at Rochester Brainery at Village Gate in Rochester. His work is currently in the Gallery at the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center through February 13, 2022, in an exhibit entitled “Artistic Odyssey.”
Nitin retired in 2018 and plans to devote more time to his art. He writes, “since I do not depend on it for a living, I create as my flow of consciousness allows. It is my threshold through the doors of perception and an expression of my diversity and a personal cultural odyssey between the east and west.”
His other passions are reading and books, which he refers to as that “gentle madness,” and woodworking and aviation. He is an avid instrument-rated pilot, which he points to as providing another objective/subjective balance in his life. His studio is at his home in Canandaigua, where he lives with his family, his extensive library and an esoteric collection of art. More of Nitin’s work and life can be found on his website, www.nitinbanwar.com.