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Cleveland Dean
Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen

Cleveland Dean, mixed media painting

Continuing through July 29, 2018

In “Recto/Verso – Duality of a Fragile Ego” Chicago artist Cleveland Dean uses material, abstraction and text to show us who we are, both literally and figuratively. Charred wood has been a constant in Dean’s practice and, in these paintings and sculptures, that visual manifestation of damage resonates. In “Of ID,” charred boards are layered with silver paint and high gloss resin. A viewer can see herself in the shiny surface — her own face superimposed with the material that overlays, but doesn't restore, the ashen imprint of that fiery trauma.

A separate wall of the gallery features Dean’s #theselfproject: a series of painted mirror pieces created especially for the selfie-taking public. The square format, Instagram-ready mirrors are stenciled with text fragments that the artist states are inspired by the Teddy Pendergrass song, “You Can’t Hide From Yourself.” The words and phrases of each piece run the gamut of emotional associations, from the more uplifting connotations of “REAL” and “PROBLEM-SOLUTION” to the defeated “HELP” and “THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.” In the resin reflection of his paintings, Dean inspires us to contemplate our layers of experience, and in #theselfproject, he creates a situation in which we must make a choice about the context in which we see and present ourselves to the world.

Chicago Cultural Center

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