"Contrary of current" is an odd phrasing because, for the meaning of contemporary, "current" is definitely an adjective. The author leaves it dangling, so we're meant to either reframe it as a noun ("things that are current"), or fill in the noun it modifies ("current style").
It's also possible the author metaphorically refers to the flow of water, in which case the meaning is more akin to "swims upstream" -- but if this is the case, it's still odd as most would add the definite article, "contrary to the current". Also, the metaphor of going against the current usually refers to the "stubborn desire to move in a particular direction, despite the extra effort", rather than "be unique".
In the context of the article, it works because it fits with this particular writer's style. There are any number of phrases which end with adjectives:
his talent has been inarguable
or with words that act as either nouns or adjectives:
it’s almost exclusively been a talent for the aesthetic
He’s the Handke-who-isn’t, the author’s epithetical double
This is the New York Times, so you have to expect that its articles (particularly those in the Arts section of the paper) will often be in a highbrow style to appeal to the paper's educated readership. I imagine the writer of this book review is himself an author, and used to creative wordplay.