Intangible World of a Stranger - Tito Stanley SJ

27 November - 30 December 2022

Welcome to the twilight zone, the suspended moment of mystique wherein lies Tito Stanley’s fantastical worldview. It is a land of contradictions, replete with flashes of vibrant tenderness and discombobulation that is all at once startlingly familiar and comforting, and yet unknown and disturbing. It is what Mikhail Bakhtin called the ‘Carnivalesque,’ a grotesquery that destabilises our everyday realities and sense-perception, uniting the blasphemous dualisms of the real and the imaginary, of the sacred and the profane, of highs and lows, of great and small. In this zone, Tito is both the performer and the ringmaster, presenting us an upside-down world where wistful environments are seldom peaceful, where calm and meditative figures are cloaked with anxiety and loss, and where seemingly bright pageantry is anything but so.


Tito’s art invites us to step inside an ethereal arboretum that is glittered with rich and expressive brushwork; it is a nursery invoking the American poet Wallace Stevens’ words, ‘black reds, pink yellows, orange whites,’ enamouring the viewer in a metaphor of excess - an excess of colour, imagination, and truth. It is in this lush landscape, this intangible world of a stranger, riddled with Christian mythology and symbolisms, where Tito performs the danse macabre, or the dance of death. By sardonically introducing his presence in the paintings, he brings down to Earth a turbulent lived experience that has witnessed violent upheavals, communal strife, and personal crises. In Tito’s paintings we note an assiduous consideration for every brushstroke and daub of paint; it is a meticulousness that speaks to the disquieted phantom lurking in his fertile and ripe landscapes. In the desolate and estranged projection of himself, Tito’s art remarks on a realism that oscillates between the circumstance of being from another place and encountering the culture of his familial heritage. As an outsider, this allows Tito to invest in an explicit and shocking visuality that debases power and welcomes the haunting spectre of death and mortality. Tito’s canvases are not merciful - in their deliberate attempt to remove any straight navigation to meaning, they are all at once a polyphony of our reality.


He is both Rabelais’ Gargantua and Manet’s Olympia, bringing comical vulgarity and satire, and looking back at the viewer with an impassioned vehemence. In these paintings, we do not see Tito chasing the chimaera of our plaintive and trepid human condition; he is that chimaera.


Curated by Shankar Tripathi.