Born in Abu Dhabi in 1994 to Keralaite parents, Tito Stanely moved to India in 2000. Having graduated in 2019 from the College of Fine Arts Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram, where he majored in painting, Stanley then took to art like fish to water.
During his childhood, he experienced the displacement of existing between two cultures, being from another place — the UAE — and returning to the land of his heritage — Kerala. This formative acculturation appears to underpin much of his developing visual language. The ‘gaze’ inherent in Stanley’s works encompasses the experience of isolation and being an ‘other,’ of being ‘alien’, and of being an ‘outsider’.
“I witnessed political violence that personally impacted me,” says Stanley. “A friend’s assassination broke my heart, and I began to question my place in both the cultures I grew up in. I was trying to find my place in the world.”
Yet it’s this perspective, deeply sardonic and observational, that’s the point of difference and uniqueness he offers to contemporary painting in India. Stanley’s views afford him a gap in observation, in which he can insert himself symbolically — or literally — within his painting, while remaining outside of the culture in which he’s immersed. This is used to reveal the absurdity of doctrine and politics that the artist appears to be attempting to reconcile.
He’s currently pursuing a Master of Visual Arts in Painting from The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, all while being recognised as a rising star by the cognoscenti of the art world.
Speaking about his newest projects, Stanley says: “My most recent works are representations of landscapes that symbolise the way religion impacts the consciousness of a human being. Like the indomitable and vast landscapes in these recent works, the dogma of religions (especially the Christianity of my youth) controls people through the dictate of morals and the way they expect people to live their everyday lives with the church. This impact can be economic, too, with churches and temples expecting monetary donations regularly from patrons.”
Gaining momentum as a rising star, Stanley is said to be on the cusp of greatness, a label very few of his ilk earn so early in their careers. His works, examples of the deepest recesses of his childhood traumas and experiences, only help propel the artist to a strata that so many yearn for.