[FOUNTAIN]Some breathing room

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[FOUNTAIN]Some breathing room

"Patrons usually want their glasses filled to the top," a restaurant hostess said, pouring a glass of wine. "But you can truly enjoy the taste only if a glass is filled two-thirds of the way."

The more space in the glass, the more a mature taste is revealed, according to the woman. Furthermore, aromatic flavors become even stronger if one lightly twirls a glass of wine, making the empty space in the glass interact with the air above it. Customers who have their glasses of wine filled to the brims may miss true pleasures.

The creations of Lee U-fan, 66, born in Korea, but better known in the fine arts field in Japan, intimidate people who do not understand or believe in the use of aesthetic space. His pieces on display around Seoul resemble unfinished paintings. Some of the works are marked with a single tiny dot on either a large white or black canvas.

In a book called "Beauty of Space," the artist explains that a work can be made timeless by the power of artistic space. Space in his work connects the inside and outside of his art, according to Mr. Lee. Space creates dynamic relations between the inside and the outside, and lets the two intermingle if needed.

Some young and progressive professors are working on projects called "the education of space," and the field likely sounds attractive to students who have been used to the "full" memorization of all subjects at school. Students in high school do need more space so that they will not be suffocated with all those subjects "fully" assigned by teachers. These young people actively confront their own research projects, unlike the ways they have been passively educated.

The education of space might invoke the potential of young and hopeful students, just like aromas coming from half filled glasses of wine or Lee U-fan's paintings, which express precious infinity with a minimum touch of a brush.

A few years ago, some artists gathered and praised the artistic features of "blank" works and created the term "blankism." However, other members of the art world found the word offensive because "blank" is completely different from artistic "space."

Korea's presidential election will be held Dec. 19. The candidates have been busy attacking each other, which has made everyone weary. A little space might help the candidates, for their malicious assaults on one another might then disappear. It would be a great joy to watch politicians hold truly democratic and mature campaigns.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Choi Chul-joo

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