LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 43, No. 4 - Winter 1997
Editor of this issue: Robertas Vitas
Copyright © 1997 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE ART OF NIJOLĖ BANYS
Banys' style has evolved from the bold shapes of her early oils and the delicate and elaborate patterns of spectra pencil drawings of flowers to the intricate acrylic creations of her latest works. But thematically she has remained constant through the stages of her development in her attachment to the forms found in nature. As a young artist of Lithuanian origin Nijolė Banys created her earliest series of paintings along the ethnographic lines: "The idea for my present works came from the book Tautos atmintis apie dievus ir žmones (The Nation's Collective Memory of Gods and Men) by Algirdas J. Greimas, which I studied in preparation for the 1981 show 'Lithuanian Mythical Beings.' " But the ethnographic theme soon faded into a more universal language about the mythical Garden of Paradise, "which is the most beautiful and spectacular garden, where various orchard trees with most delicious and unusual fruits grow..., where the day always governs us." She turned her attention to the most beautiful subject found in nature - the flowers, especially the flowers of the spring: "Spring... oh, what a beautiful season! Lilies, butterflies, rainbows, blue sky, budding flowers... Rainbow colored flowers cover my works of art and they reach out towards the blue skies where there is peace, love, and happiness which brings peacefulness to my soul."
The subject of flowers continued in Banys' work to this day. The style and the technique changed but she persevered in retaining the same subject. When Nijolė speaks of her art she speaks of it as if it was part of her very being. By painting flora's intricate patterns she expresses her soul's most intimate secrets. The shapes, the lines, the colors change with the changes of her mood, state of mind, feelings about herself and the world." "Come walk with me through my life's garden" is the title of one of her series of paintings done in 1995 and 1996. "During that time I was capable of painting only in dark colors: something was holding me back. I had a fear of unknown destinations... But gradually I started to accept the future and what it held for me." The dark colors of the series "Pathways" (1996) eventually went to brighter shades. Colors became lighter. There was more texture, more life, feelings of love, compassion which surfaced in her work. It was winter, and finally dark clouds dispersed, started lifting away from her shoulders and heart. Winter scenes of beauty, of light and sparkling landscapes appeared in her work. After this Nijolė started painting flowers again. "I tried to paint something unique, something that belongs only to me. This uniqueness was something I didn't suspect I had. It came out spontaneously, without any effort. It burst out like a white lily on Easter Sunday." The new style evolved around abstraction but still within the parameters of nature's beauty.
Nijolė M. Banys was born in Lithuania and now resides in Western Springs, Illinois. She studied at the University of Illinois and Roosevelt University. In 1957 she graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
She belongs to the Oak Park Art League, La Grange Art League, North Shore Art League, and Winnetka Art League.
She has participated in numerous juried and invitational shows in the Chicago area, including Color 84, the Ukrainian Museum of Modern Art, Felician College, Moraine Valley College, Hyde Park Art Center, North Shore Art League. She had solo exhibitions at the Lithuanian Art Gallery Čiurlionis in Chicago (1984 and 1992), the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago (1988), the Lithuanian Museum of Art in Lemont, Illinois (1993). Banys is the recipient of several awards, and her works have been purchased by the Vincent Price Art collection, the Lithuanian Art gallery Čiurlionis, and many other public and private collectors.
Gentle Purple, 1997, acrylic, 24"x30"
Enchanted Kingdom, 1997, acrylic, 24"x30'
Winter Scene, 1997, acrylic, 36"x24"
Smoky Blues, 1997, acrylic, 24"x30'
Garden Gate, 1997, acrylic, 36"x24"
Flowers, 1997, acrylic, 20"xl6"