Tongyeong Triennale 2022 Invites You to “The Island of Art”

Tongyeong, a coastal city in South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, will set about its inaugural international art exhibition in March. As the first edition of the triennale – an Italian word that means ‘once every three years’ – the interdisciplinary art festival which will fetch artisans from various fields such as traditional crafts, literature, art, music, and performances. “Welcome to Tongyeong, an artistic and traditional city with historic artists including Yun Isang as a composer, Park Gyeongree as a novelist, and Chunsoo Kim as a poet.”, Kang Seokju, the mayor of Tongyeong, invited.

Under the overarching theme, “Tongyeong: islands, winds”, the Tongyeong Triennale 2022 will take place from March 18 to May 8 in the whole area of Tongyeong. The city whose three sides are surrounded by the sea consists of 570 islands. The entire city will be utilized as an exhibition and performance venue by connecting the inland and island. According to Kim Ji In, Director-General of Tongyeong Triennale Secretariat, the event is intended to bridge the traditional culture of Tongyeong, represented by the 12 gongbang (craftsmen’s workshops), with the contemporary arts. “By doing so, we hope to discover new historic and artistic value and interpretations through fresh perspectives,” the director explained.

It is also quite noteworthy in the perspective of urban regeneration because the exhibition will also make reuse of waste buildings, such as abandoned shipyards and cultivation facilities, instead of constructing new spaces for the exhibition.  “Since 2018, Tongyeong is reforming the city itself under the urban restoration project. The city shrinked due to the limited infrastructure expansion and a declining shipbuilding industry. I hope the restoration will be a milestone for the city,” Mayor Kang explained.

Tongyeong city itself is a cultural and artistic museum and the islands are where different arts and cultures are put together. With islands of arts from various genres, the city will be filled with the island of arts and become an art platform. As a city where tradition and modernity, nature and civilization coxist, the fresh wind of art will stay on a message of “Balance.” Tongyeong wants to share with the world and artistic value of the city is the spirit of this harmony. Mayor Kang said, “We will do our best to be reborn as a world-class cultural and artistic city by actively utilizing Tongyeong’s infinite potential and capabilities through the hosting of the Tongyeong Triennale 2022.” He also expressed his expectations saying that the art festival will be the springboard to culture and the arts industry of the city.

Kang Seokju, the mayor of Tongyeong

The main exhibition of the triennale, “Take Your Time”, displaying the works of 37 artists from 13 countries, is an invitation to experience and transcend our perception and observation of time. This art show is a journey through a collection of artworks, installations, and experiences, from handicrafts and paintings from the 19th century to neuro design and virtual reality arts. The exhibition concept was headed by Daniel Kapelian. Daniel, a main curator of the triennale, has captured the artistic spirit of Korea and built a personal way to develop it as an attractive influence asset to reach global markets and audiences. The exhibition intends to gear human attention towards the inside, to offer people a time for contemplation, recollection, and reconnection with life’s essential state of awareness. Audiences will face the vase nature and the entangled trilogy of past, present and future time, and will gain time to focus on their inner selves rather than the outer selves.

Korean traditional cultures can be enjoyed during the 52-day event – including Ottchil (lacquer varnish), Namhaean Byeolsingut (ritual for village tutelary spirit), and Tongyeong Ogwangdae (performance of five clowns). The special exhibition, “Hands to Art; Inspired by 12 Studios’ will also bring in works of 17 Korean craft artists. The exhibition is focused on the production process of 12 craft studios in Tongyeong including the overall historical assets from the Joseon Dynasty to the present. Two additional special exhibitions – ‘Jeon Hyucklim Special Exhibition’ and ‘Kim Seongsoo’s 70 Years of Ottchil History’ – and the regional exhibition linking three islands including Hansando, Saryangdo, and Yeonhwado island will take place. “A series of island-based exhibition spaces will also be operated to complete our vision of an event that spans the mainland and islands,” explained the director Kim. Jeon Hyucklim is a painter who marked a milestone in the history of Korean contemporary art, and  Kim Seongsoo is a pioneer of modern Korean Ottchil painting. Regional art projects such as performance and street arts with the combination of modernity and traditionality will amp up the mood at the festivities.

Through the Tongyeong Triennale 2022, the city is expected to promote and spread the value of traditional Korean arts to the world and foster and revitalize its cultural and artistic resources.

For more information on the Tongyeong Triennale 2022, visit the website. ( 




Kayla Hong



Asia Journal