The paintings of Long Island artist Sue Contessa are currently on display in a solo show, Process and Ritual, at the Adele and Herbert J. Klapper Center for Fine Arts. The works of acrylic and graphite create a meditative gallery show; a viewer has to stop and focus upon them in order to gain access to a rhythmic quiet formed by the repetitive mark making. Contessa’s paintings are composed of many subtle layers and possess a visual depth that emerges with deep study. The color palette is muted and reserved, though more nuances and transitions of color are revealed within the layers.
The one exception is the attention grabbing Linear Veil, the first painting the viewer sees upon entering the long narrow gallery.
This painting has many of the same characteristics of the others, but the colors are much more saturated. It’s a good thing it’s the first painting a visitor sees; it draws them into this introspective show when otherwise they might have kept on walking quickly through the gallery. That would be extremely unfortunate, because Contessa’s works are an ode to the processes and reflections that artmaking entails.