"WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF A SMALL DOT IN THIS BEAUTIFUL EARTH"
Tito Stanley S J
Tito Stanley S J was born in Abu Dhabi in 1994 to parents from Kerala. He moved back to India in 2000. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, having majored in painting in 2019. In his early childhood,Tito Stanley 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 seems to underpin much of his developing visual language as a gaze. The gaze inherent in Stanley’s works encompasses the experience of isolation and being ‘other’ of being ‘alien’ and of being an ‘outsider’. Yet it is this gaze, deeply sardonic, allegorical and observational, that is the point of difference and uniqueness that Stanley offers to contemporary painting in Kerala and India. His gaze affords Tito Stanley a gap in observation, in which he can insert himself symbolically or literally within his painting, while remaining outside of the culture he is immersed in. This juxtaposition is used to reveal the absurdity of doctrine and politics that Tito Stanley seems to be attempting to reconcile. At present he is pursuing MVA in painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.
TITO STANLEY SJ
Portfolio of Artworks
2021: Lokame Tharavadu (The world is one family), curated by Bose Krishnamachari, Alappuzha &Ernakulam.
2021: Kerala Lalitha kala Academi 49th state exhibition, 2019-20, Darbar hall art gallery, Kochi.Museum, Edappally, Kochi.2021: Turtles can tell more about the road than hares, Group exhibition of paintings, Kerala
2020: Lines & Hues Group show, EKA art gallery, Fort Kochi.
2019: Kerala Lalitha kala Academi 48th state exhibition 2018-19, Darbar hall art gallery, Kochi.
2019: Asantham Group exhibition 2019-20, Darbar hall art gallery, Kochi.
2019: 10x10x10 Group show, Indriyam art gallery, Kochi.
2017: Rising palates group show, Indriyam art gallery, Kochi.
2017: Conglomeration International show of Graphic print making, LKA art gallery, Kozhikode.
2016: Kerala Lalitha kala Academi 46th state exhibition 2015-16, Darbar hall art gallery, Kochi.
2016: Students Biennale, Kochi.
SOLO EXHIBITION - RELICS OF A DIVINE LAND
November 23rd, 2020
RELICS OF A DIVINE LAND
By Marnie Dean
‘Relics of a Divine land’ is the first solo exhibition created by emerging artist Tito Stanley S.J. Named after his father Tito Stanley, ‘Tito Stanley was born in Abu Dhabi in 1994 to parents from Kerala. He moved back to India in 2000. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, having majored in painting in 2019. In his early childhood, Stanley 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 seems to underpin much of his developing visual language as a gaze. The gaze inherent in Stanley’s works encompasses the experience of isolation and being ‘other’ of being ‘alien’ and of being an ‘outsider’. Yet it is this gaze, deeply sardonic, allegorical and observational, that is the point of difference and uniqueness that Stanley offers to contemporary painting in Kerala and India. His gaze affords Tito Stanley a gap in observation, in which he can insert himself symbolically or literally within his painting, while remaining outside of the culture he is immersed in. This juxtaposition is used to reveal the absurdity of doctrine and politics that Stanley seems to be attempting to reconcile.
The title of the exhibition ‘Relics of a Divine Land’ alludes to the irony that Stanley depicts in his works. In this exhibition, Stanley is deconstructing the unjust systems of hegemony that uphold the Christian religion of his heritage in Kerala and the new right-wing political agendas invading India, an India that was once, in Stanley’s surreal romanticism, a ‘divine land,’ but no more. Stanley explains,
“I came to realize that the behavior of human beings is dictated by the society they live in, through religion and rituals and in good and bad experiences from their environment. I began a series of self-portraits and portraits of imagined figures who are tortured by the need to conform to religions, morals and ethics of the societies they live in. In my paintings I started to introduce biblical and surreal imagery to represent the inner conflict and turmoil of needing to conform to something you don’t believe in. For example, I use halos to depict ordinary people pretending to be gods and hybrid creatures to convey the bad influence of religious extremism on people.”
Visually, Stanley’s paintings have a surreal tenet, they contain a distinct colour palette dominated by green, shared by more senior contemporaries like Ratheesh T., K.L. Leon and even the less graphic works by Jyothi Basu. Stanley’s paintings are rich, with a visual language that is layered, with intricate and sophisticated detail that supports the solemnity that his imagery depicts. Symbolically, Stanley portrays physical pain as a metaphor for understanding the emotional suffering people endure under the oppression of religion and politics. This is evident in the work Apocalypse (2019), in which a broken male body, overtaken by the vegetation of the land, is subsumed into the landscape and dominated by the figure of a church at the centre of the composition. Equally in Raw (2016), a triumvirate of Christ-like figures and a self-portrait have cavities and holes in their bodies, what was once in the holes, the heart now exists outside the body, constricted in a jar. The metaphor of physical pain for emotional suffering is continued in the painting titled Victim of Love and Selfishness (2019). In this painting, the artist’s torn torso is being consumed by two hybrid and monstrous vulture-like figures, male and female, seated at a table in the foreground of the composition, reminiscent of the last supper. In the background of the painting an encroaching landscape, dotted with vegetation, surrounds the central figure of the torso, with Stanley’s rendition of the Ka Ka (crow), another scavenger and opportunist like the vultures, feasting. This imagery, startling in its graphic nature, parodies people who exploit the vulnerable in the name of a God or a higher authority.
Landscape dominates the imagery in Stanley’s exhibition. Anyone living in Kerala knows that the vegetation there quickly invades any infrastructure if it is not maintained, this reality, of the dominance of nature, is evident in many painters from Kerala and Stanley is no exception. However, Stanley reveres nature and places nature above edifice and religion in the hierarchy of his visual language. Even when his mythological landscapes are seemingly constricted or permeated with structure their gravitas remains with the natural world, this is clear in the works Relics of a Divine Land I (2018), Relics of a Divine land II (2018) and Secluded Dead Sky (2019). Nature is pure and above humanity, yet sometimes the wickedness of the human world infiltrates the landscape and changes it, so only the ‘relics of divinity remain’. Talking about the existence of landscape in this exhibition Stanley reveals,
“There are mythical landscapes, derived from my imagining of the contrast between heaven and hell from bible stories told to me in childhood. However, my depiction of landscapes are layered, I also use landscape as a metaphor for my mind, a mindscape if you will; another way of inserting myself within the composition, this is subtle. There is also the nostalgia for the land of India in a more peaceful time—another layer. There are also landscapes to escape to and find solace in nature. All of these aspects combine in the formation of my renderings of the land.”
Tito S.J. Stanley’s landscapes are canonical; they invoke imagery of the Gospel of Mathew (like in the renditions by Giotto, scenes from the San Marco Basilica even works by Duccio di Buoninsegna etc.), in which Christ is famously tempted by the Devil in the Judean desert for 40 days and 40 nights, in particular in the paintings Confession (2018), and the parting of the Red Sea inspired Relics of a Divine Land (2020). Appropriating from this biblical rhetoric, Stanley re-creates that liminal space, with its heightened intensity with a contemporary precept, flipping the traditional spatial relationship between signifiers in his paintings, so that instead of figures dominating a landscape, landscape outplays figurative interventions. Collectively, this reverse scale reinforces the reverie in Stanley’s works, instead of him exploring Christ, the Devil and evil; Stanley is attempting to reconcile the violence, religious doctrine and politics of the times he is living in. Stanley is attempting to reconcile these dichotomies from a position of having intimate knowledge of, but no personal sense of corporeal belonging to the culture his parents were born in. However Stanley venerates the idea of a peaceable India; indeed the exhibition is an ode to the innate sacredness of the physical substrata India, albeit an India that is in the past or in the distant future, or perhaps it is an India that exists permanently in the liminal space, waiting for the chaos to die down and make way for the new. From the catalog of the exhibition
Marnie Dean BVA (H) MVA Ad Dip. B. Psychotherapy
Marnie Dean is an artist, curator, writer and psychotherapist from Australia. Dean lived in Mundamveli in Kochi from 2014-2016, while she was rescuing her Indie dog Seema. Having graduated with a Masters in Visual Arts from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, in Australia, she moved to Los Angeles in California where she worked for the USABF (US Asia Business Forum), F.O.S.A.A.C. (Friends of the South Asian American Communities) and the Indian Chamber of Commerce in the State of California, as a curator, focusing on creating events for South Asian Communities under the guidance of Kevin Kaul. Marnie was then invited to curate an exhibition in 2012 by Sanjay Tulysan and Dilip Narayanan as part of the open program of the inaugural Kochi Muziris Biennale, titled Re-picturing the Feminine. This exhibition brought together 20 women artists from Australia and India; a second instalment of this exhibition was mounted at Griffith University Art Museum and QCA Galleries in 2013 titled Mythopoetic: Women Artists from Australia and India. Marnie mounted her own solo exhibition that depicted her time spent in Kochi in 2017 at Woolloongabba Art Gallery titled Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Dean continues to practice in all her fields of expertise in Australia, India and America.
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Education and Experience
POST GRADUATE STUDIES
Current education status - 2021
Pursuing Master's in Visual Art in Painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Gujrat, India.
ART GRADUATE STUDIES
August 2015 - March 2019
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting, First Rank with distinction From College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. (Batch 2015 -2019)
November 1- December 1, 2019
FARMSTUDIO International residency session 2, FARM Studio was founded to realize the creative potential of exchange, dialogue and collaboration between Indian rural artists and artisans and international contemporary artists. Locally, Farm Studio promotes and celebrates community artistic and cultural identity and supports community-based activities. I got a chance to join with them for a one month residency in last of 2019, and got a good opportunity to complete a good body of works in that residency period. One of my work titled ‘Memories in Green land’ Medium – Oil on canvas Size -5* 2.5 ft Memories in Green land, this painting is derived from my experience in Farm Studio Residency and the near surrounding spaces which I visited. This work shows that a harmonious green landscape and some sweetest moments in residency period, and it has greatly influenced the top views from mountains and hard working farmers in Andore village.
From 2017 to present
2020: Nira Keralam State painting camp (Work from home) by Kerala Lalitha Kala Academi, Kerala.
2019: Kavyathmakam State painting camp by Kerala Kala Academi, Marine Drive, Kochi, Kerala.
2018: National Camp of paper making and ceramics College of fine arts, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
2017: Vivekananda Sparsham state painting camp by Kerala Lalitha kala Academi, Ernakulam, Kerala.
2017: Thanjavur South zone cultural center wall painting camp, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu.
From 2019 to present
2020: Shristi AIF Grant.
2019: Solo Exhibition Grant from Kerala Lalitha kala Academi.
2019: Student Scholar ship from Kerala Lalitha kala Academi.
Articles and Exhibitions
Tito Stanley S J has received a great deal of press coverage for both his solo work and his multiple collaborations. Read through the latest articles and mentions about his works below and scroll down for collateral materials.
ലോകമേ തറവാട് | Lokame Tharavadu (The World is One Family)
Alappuzha & Ernakulam
The Kochi Biennale Foundation, with the support of the Govt. of Kerala presents a large-scale contemporary art survey exhibition titled ‘Lokame Tharavadu’. The show will feature the works of 267 artists who trace their roots back to Kerala, in five different venues in Alappuzha and Durbar Hall, Ernakulam. A collection of works of each participating artist is exhibited, in an attempt to foreground each of their individual practices.
The core idea of this exhibition, the world is one family, is drawn from the verses of a Malayalam poem written by Vallathol Narayana Menon, which appeals to the universal spirit of humanity, especially in these times of the Covid pandemic. The exhibition invokes the power of art to revive and resurrect the dejected human spirit. The curator, Bose Krishnamachari has conceptualised the exhibition asking certain important questions about our ideas of home, surroundings and the world. The show is also a step taken towards realising the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s vision to enrich the public discourse on contemporary art, and to create a platform that will introduce global contemporary visual art theory and practice, aesthetics and art experiences to the Indian public.
All exhibition venues shall be strictly governed by the Ministry of Culture’s SOP for exhibition spaces, and the appropriate COVID protocols issued by the Government of Kerala from time to time. To help us create a safe viewing experience for you and fellow visitors, please make sure you stick to the following guidelines :
If you are unwell, or have come in contact with someone who is unwell, please consider visiting on a later suitable date. We will remain open till 30th June.
Please maintain adequate physical distancing inside and outside the exhibition spaces and avoiding crowding around exhibits.
Please wear a face mask at all times.
Sanitize regularly. Please make use of the sanitizer stations at the venues.
Your cooperation with our volunteers in the exhibition spaces, who are stationed to help ensure safety protocols are followed, is required.
Senior citizens (aged above 60), those belonging to vulnerable groups, pregnant women and children (aged under 10) will not be permitted.
1 Port Museum, Alappuzha
2 Kerala State Coir Corporation, Alappuzha (Godown B + Shed D)
3 New Model Society, Alappuzha (Main Building + Courtyard Building)
4 Eastern Produce Company Ltd/The Alleppey Company Ltd, Alappuzha.
5 William Goodacre & Sons Pvt Ltd, Alappuzha
6 Durbar Hall, Ernakulam
A Ramachandran (Delhi)
Aami Atmaja (Idukki)
Abdul Gafoor (Kasargod)
Abhimanue V G (Baroda)
Abul Hisham (Thrissur)
Abul Kalam Azad (Wayanad)
Ahalya Rajendran (Baroda)
AJ Joji (Thiruvananthapuram)
Aji V N (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Ajikumar Adoor (Thiruvananthapuram)
Akhil Mohan (Ernakulam)
Akkitham Narayanan (Paris, France)
Akkitham Vasudevan (Baroda)
Alex Chandy (Ernakulam)
Alex Davis (Delhi)
Alex Mathew (Hyderabad)
Alexander D (Alappuzha)
Ameen Khaleel (Alappuzha)
Anjum Rizvi (Ernakulam)
Anil B Krishnan (Alappuzha)
Anil Dayanand (Ernakulam)
Anil Janardhanan (Dindigul)