Chad Cleveland Painting, Self-Identity, and Meaning

Either by dabbling in creative projects solely for fun or defining ourselves as committed artists, at some point or another, everyone has experienced the incredibly cathartic quality of making art. It is undeniable that art can create an outlet for us to explore and unlock deeper parts of ourselves, acting as an immensely evolutionary process. For some, this process can be more deeply accessed than others. Chad Cleveland, a local painter based in Canandaigua, is the true embodiment of an artist who uses his practice to ignite transformative personal experiences. His relationship to his practice is nearly metaphysical, as he dives deep to explore his subconscious mind, and uses the process of making his paintings as a way to transcend the mundane level of our day-to-day existence. This undeniably devotional process has become a transference of his carefree and curious nature, which was explored in his younger years through outlets outside of the art world. Cleveland now carries on this adventurous spirit through his paintings by using the act of making as an exploration within itself.

Cleveland is a self-proclaimed rebel, and he has never been known as one to follow the rules. In his younger years, he held an audacious and rambunctious spirit and was known to push against the grain and question what the rest of the world was taking for granted. Cleveland describes himself as attracted to a “run-on sentence way of life,” and pulls inspiration from the rebellious energy of rule-breakers like Jack Kerouac and Picasso. Cleveland is continuously evolving and building off of the adventures of his past. This inquisitive spirit lead him down a myriad of mysterious paths in his life. It wasn’t until his early twenties that Cleveland decided he would pursue painting, which was indeed an adventure on its own, as he hadn’t explored art very profoundly as a teenager. There was something in this venture that felt deeply resonant, and in the spirit of following his intuition, Cleveland decided to attend Binghamton State to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting.

Originally trained in traditional painting techniques, much of Cleveland’s earlier work is in the classical style of portraiture. Always yearning to push against the norms, Cleveland began exploring more abstract and non-objective ways of visualizing his ideas which opened up an entirely new and surreal artistic world. Cleveland’s work began vacillating back and forth between realistic and abstract art forms, and his current practice works to combine them into a unique and distinct style.

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