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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Steven Labadessa

Steven Labadessa

Painting and drawing serve as a physically enacted ritual of praise and contemplation, aspiring towards a devout pursuit of a severe beauty. It is an aesthetic of imperfection alluding to the underlying nature of matter and memory: everything is subject to age, wear & decay. Yet, obstinately, the invisible is made visible, suspended in the mythical timelessness of the medium – still, but never silent; wherein, this uncertain truth is knowingly implied to antagonize the loneliness of our lives. Therein, it may be countenanced, stared down, transfigured, and treated.

A more grounded discussion of my work begins with considering its "operatic" tone. I exact a preference for hyperbole and "psychological" texture in my work. It comes, as most art forms, from reflections on my life (episodes, experiences, etc.). And, it is imagery that I explore specific to painting within the confines of self-portraiture that typically runs counter to modern western notions of beauty. I re-render the flesh of friends and relations (lasting & temporary) serving as a surrogate for me by “compositing” my imagery from a variety of observed, imaginary and digital sources. In so doing, I seek to continue to resolve/meld both “low” and “high” influences with a conscious restraint airing on subtlety to yield tension.

Among the influences that orbit my visual mind are Japanese popular/fringe culture from Butoh to anime stemming from my early fandom of Toho films (notably, featuring Godzilla) to an early introduction to anime via UHF PBS broadcasting subtitled anime in the early 70s/80s airing from New Jersey, whilst I wistfully watched on my parent’s bed (their TV was the only one to clearly received the signal, so that I could watch “Captain Harlock” every Sunday night), western comic book art (particularly the “Silver Age” of Marvel Comics), as well as Northern Renaissance Art (for example; Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling)


MFA Painting University of Pennsylvania (Departmental Grants)

Post-Bacc (2nd) Painting School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Scholarship)

Post-Bacc (1st) Painting School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Scholarship)

JD Boston University, School of Law (Scholarship)

BS w honors Psychology Brooklyn College* (Scholarship)
BA w honors Fine Arts (Drawing) Brooklyn College* (Scholarship)

*summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Scholars’ Program, Dean’s List


Painting The Art Institute of Boston (Lesley University)
Painting SVA (i.e., School of Visual Arts, NYC)
Painting New York Academy of Art
Anatomy, Pastel The Arts Students’ League of New York
Writing New York University
Theatre Arts H.B. Studios, NYC

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