The Art of Aesthetics

Michael Hogan

The work of three of today’s most talented artists is on display across the city of Boston. Often times modern art can be hard to understand, trying to decipher an explanation is more work than many are willing to put in.

There are those times when the artistic quality of a piece is enough. The visual brilliance of some art makes up for any confusion as to meaning.

Cliff Evan’s video montage “Empyrean” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Jim Lambie’s creative use of chairs and purses in “RSVP: Jim Lambie” at the Museum of Fine Arts, and Kadder Attia’s morbid installation “Momentum 9: Kadder Attia” at the Institute of Contemporary Art are three prime examples of this importance of aesthetics in modern art.

Cliff Evan’s “Empyrean” is a video collage of arresting visuals that evoke an fusion of emotional reactions. The viewer is bombarded with imagery that drag the viewer from humor to shock in a matter of seconds.

Using advertisements and other recognizable pictures Evan’s has managed to create a mosaic that pulls the viewer in with its vibrancy while at the same time driving them away with its frightening realism. Taking the images of pop culture and religious icons and blending them with mysterious backgrounds, a world of militarism and power comes to life.

Known for his innovative uses of recycled materials Scottish artist Jim Lambie does things with everyday items that none of us would ever think of. In “RSVP: Jim Lambie” at the MFA, Lambie has used chairs, purses and black tape to change the galleria wall in the west wing into something special.

Hundreds of interwoven arches of tape bring constant movement to the piece, silently evoking a sort of mental music. Lambie has split chairs in half and painted them in bright colors before affixing them to the wall. Jutting out of the wall, these chairs are adorned with purses covered in pieces of broken mirror, reflecting the viewer like a kaleidoscope.

The third piece is at the ICA. “Momentum 9: Kadder Attia” is a collection of “beds” set up in dormitory style. With the help of students from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the ICA Teens Council, Attia has managed to make an installation that resonates with an absence of life. The shapes of bodies once splayed out upon these “beds” are hollowed out of the foam “mattresses,” morbidity and memory caught in the impressions that are left behind.

“Momentum 9: Kadder Attia” is on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art, located at 100 Northern Avenue on the South Boston waterfront, from November 14, 2007- March 2, 2008. More information can be found on the ICA’s website:

“Empyrean” is on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, located at 280 The Fenway, from November 9, 2007 – January 13,2008. More information can be found on the Gardner’s website:

“RSVP: Jim Lambie” is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, located at 465 Huntington Avenue, from November 10, 2007 – May 25,2008. More information can be found at the MFA’s website: