[FORUM]Seeking a Matisse in politics

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[FORUM]Seeking a Matisse in politics

Fauvism in Western fine art history referred to a “revolution of color.” Fauvists did not imitate the colors in nature but expressed their emotions with color. They were not content to imitate nature’s light but created their own light.
Fauvism lasted only three years after the first 1905 Salon d’Automne exhibition in Paris, France, but was a tremendous shock for followers of modern fine arts. The two elements of two-dimensional painting are form and color. If the cubist Pablo Picasso destroyed the accepted notion of form, the fauvist Henri Matisse then destroyed that of color.
Now, a century later, works of the Fauvists are being exhibited at the Seoul Municipal Museum of Art. The brilliant primary colors of Fauvists contain a thrilling power. This power comes from a change in thought and paradigms, such as between heliocentric and geocentric theories.
The power of politics, which is treated as third- or fourth-rate, is no exception. It should show a vision of new dimension so as to mobilize the public. If they cannot do this, politicians should at least read quickly what the public longs for and adjust themselves to those wishes. Then, they can be leaders of the times.
This goes for the “theory of standard-bearers in their forties” that is discussed in the political community. At the time when former presidents Kim Yong-sam and Kim Dae-jung first argued for this theory, the demand for change from the people was urgent. Former president Park Chung Hee made his long-term rule possible by revising the constitution to enable a third-term presidency, while the opposition leadership was entangled in a controversy over whether there were opposition lawmakers who secretly communicated with President Park’s party. People longed for an opposition leader who had the spirit to confront the military dictatorship directly. By riding this trend of the time, the age of the two Kims came about.
People’s hearts during the Lunar New Year holidays were chilly. Many said they withdrew their interest from political circles because they were too tired to criticize them. They did not pin any hope on the opposition parties either. The situation of the governing Uri Party is particularly pathetic. Since the present administration came into office, the party has lost all of 27 elections and has to hold further elections in May. There is no telling who will be in the lead. No party leader has a support rate of more than one digit and a desperate sense of defeat is widespread. Amid this, there are even signs of mudslinging. This is why we turn our eyes to the “theory of standard-bearers in their forties.”
Yet the argument by candidates in their forties is disappointing. Imitating the so-called “big two” seems beyond the capabilities of Uri Party’s presidential hopefuls, former Unifi-cation Minister Chung Dong-young and former Health and Welfare Minister Kim Geun-tae. They cannot explain why presidential candidates should be in their forties or what particular significance biological age has. An understandable explanation would be that they are alternatives to the “big two” as the two have very low support rates. But the young candidates cannot persuade people why they should be alternatives. Even so, it is better to have the courage to proclaim themselves to be alternatives. The “theory of standard-bearers in their forties” aims to overturn the accepted order, including the age of the players. These candidates will never have their turn if they simply line up to join a faction and shout for or against the agenda of a main candidate. A second choice without a vision is nothing but a second-rater forever.
When Tony Blair became popular in Britain, there were many politicians who claimed to be “Korea’s Blair.” There were even people who imitated President Park’s hairstyle, capitalizing on nostalgia for the former president, but imitation without substance is open to ridicule. Numerous politicians in their forties have became heroes of sudden popularity, including John F. Kennedy, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and, recently, British conservative party leader David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister-elect Steven Harper and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel. But their power did not come from their biological age. They conveyed clear messages that overturned past paradigms. They offered a clear vision and explicit solutions to the questions voters asked.
Picasso, who began drawing in his childhood, could not paint for six months after he first saw the paintings of Matisse, who only began to paint after age 20. Painting the sea in blue and trees in green comes from age and experience. I hope, however, to see Matisses, who painted the sea with the red of passion and the sky with the pink of happiness. Then, observers can see hope.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ibo.


by Kim Jin-kook

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