“No matter what obstacles may come our way: we are all born to the world with gifts, and each of us is called to discover and fully develop them. Given that your senses are fine, use them for God’s glory… just as me that I paint, and that my paintings are my daily bread. Stand up and make the most of life!” This is just one of the so many wise truths the Argentinean mouth painter, Hector Anibal Oveseika –better known as Tito– shares eagerly with everybody who’s set out on a one-of-its-kind trip to meet him. This ride leads to a life-changing friendship which I treasure deeply in my heart. I kindly invite each of you into this charming friendship. Be my guests!
Tito lives in Jacinto Arauz, a small rural town in La Pampa, a province in the center of Argentina divided between the Patagonian steppe and the confines of the humid Pampa. He was born on 7 September 1968 into a working-class family who has always struggled for a feasible life against all odds in the South American countryside. Common scenarios here have been barriers to accessing health care when needed, extremely limited access to schooling, generalized low income, and children working in agriculture or doing domestic chores such as fetching drinking water.
Due to problems during labor and delivery, Tito suffers from cerebral palsy which affects his arms and legs. However, rather than giving up, Tito and his mother, Pirucha, have never let any difficulties bring him to a standstill. She has always been by him, boosting his potential to the utmost with infinite love, everlasting will and a sound and healthy sense of humor that spreads warmly all around her.
Right from an early age, Tito has been an energetic and lively boy. His enthusiasm to enjoy life, play outdoors, feel helpful, pursue dreams and learn just as any other kid has always made his mother ask herself how to help him move and advance.
With no financial resources at home, but fully driven by her great maternal instinct, deep natural wisdom and keen creativity, Pirucha would always manage to design and create toys at home to help Tito enjoy the happiest memories while playing and strengthening his body at the same time.
As Professor Susannah Gal from Penn State Harrisburg once stated in a journal: “Wisdom involves more of the brain… and instinct, more of the heart”.
Isn’t that fantastic? Wisdom and instinct: brain and heart turning whatever seems impossible into possibilities that become endless for humankind.
As part of the routine for example, Tito’s mum would cut small pieces of cellophane paper and stick them to a homemade wire device placed on the table in front of his mouth for him to blow them out and strengthen mouth muscles. Exercises such as this one have greatly helped him prepare his mouth to swallow and speak better. They also had to face and figure out how to vanish Tito’s sort-of-fear attitude when he was touched, and they worked it out with gentle and soothing caress and massage on his neck and face. Devotion, perseverance, patience, fun, laughter, love, motivation, dreams… Is there anything else more important than this? As one of Violeta Parra’s, Chilean folk artists, songs goes: “What I have never had in life, I don’t really happen to need indeed”.
Tito has enjoyed a fantastic childhood with caring parents, fun brothers and exciting friends who kept on inviting him to join them and play even football together! Lovely memories that he treasures in his heart! Nothing was impossible for him thanks to motivation coming from his inside and the great bonds supporting him around.
Tito’s mother would follow each piece of advice coming from both nearby healers as well as doctors they visited when travelling more than 100 kilometers away (80 miles), and she would adapt as many exercises as possible based on what she could find or create back home. Driven by Tito’s motivation and love, there was nothing they did not try out together. Promises from healers were lots and varied, frustrations often boiled over, but grit and patience have never come to an end at home. Tito’s talent was there: a little more time was needed to discover his gift and fine-tune his abilities. Devotion, perseverance, patience, fun, laughter, love, motivation, and dreams…
How did he become a painter?
Drawing or painting on papers placed horizontally on tables was rather difficult for Tito and no significant improvements happened to be seen. One day, a table was turned upright and a piece of paper with a drawing was fixed vertically onto the table board in front of him. Tito would dip a hand in paint and then pat his palm all over the drawing. Painting vertically would become another strategy to help him strengthen his waist and trunk, maintain balance in arms and hands, and this would lead him into learning more about colors, shapes and sizes. Strategies were adapted… but Tito’s single moving hand didn’t answer as he wished.
One day at the age of eight, Pirucha drew a little train for him to keep on exercising as usual. However, he was not convinced and asked his mum to bring him a brush. A brush?! Taken by surprise, she went for a brush and came back placing it between his fingers… but soon afterwards it fell down onto the table. Rather than giving up, Tito brought the brush over to him with his arm, bent his head down onto the table decidedly, took the brush with his mouth instantly and set out to paint! What an outstanding painting! Flawless!
“My first mouth painting drawing
24 May 1976”
A medical board in charge of assessing Tito’s improvements gathered some days afterwards to review his folder. When they came up to that little great train, his mother said: “He painted that train holding a brush in his mouth”. Doctors saw each other with a look of surprise as they hadn’t even noticed Tito’s neck strength before. They closed the folder undoubtedly and told Pirucha positively: “Whatever your son is not able to achieve by hand he will effectively manage with his mouth!”.
This has been a turning point for Tito as well as his whole family which has always stood up for him unconditionally. Tito shares with us happily: “No special person should shut themselves down, and everybody should keep in touch with society and get such a great upbringing as I did thanks to my family. Find your gift and develop it! Having the possibility to live an active social life lets me keep in touch with people and helps me greatly to speak about any topics of interest. It’s also wonderful for ordinary people because it helps them leave aside prejudices rooted in the past and speak to special people like me. I feel great speaking to adults in exhibitions and to kids at schools, and to welcome them all at my atelier at home, for example. By exchanging experiences with kids, children speak to us from an early age in life. Isn’t that fantastic?! I don’t get bothered by any questions. Quite the opposite, all questions are welcome as you make me feel happier every day!”
Tito is an outstanding painter and a remarkable person with noble values, great determination and strong belief who teaches us that there are no boundaries for love and happiness. Tito became a painter at the age of eight, and his career is an example of life. His paintings shine as brightly as he does with his own life, deep spirit and great heart.
Tito welcomes you happily to join him at www.facebook.com/titoelpintor and
www.titopintaconlaboca.com.ar . He’d be pleased to know about you and share wholeheartedly with you his outstanding life and ever-growing career.
Tito’s outstanding book about his biography and works