Shoshei Yokoyama was born in the Okayama prefecture and graduated from the Osaka University of the Arts in 2008 where he studied glassmaking. In 2014 Yokoyama moved to Toyama, one of Japan's biggest centres for glass making, to work as an assistant at the Toyama City Institute of Glass Art. Today he is an assistant at the Tama Art University, Tokyo.
Yokoyama initially thought he would follow in his father's footsteps and learn the traditional Japanese pottery from the Bizen provence, Bizen yaki. But he realised that he wanted to find his own medium for expression, and encountered glass making at a university open course. "I was totally attracted by the clear texture and the dynamic techniques of putting your own breath into the material.", explains the artist.
Yokoyama primarily uses glassblowing techniques to create piece which reflect the soft and fluid movement of glass. He produces large art pieces with the help of several assistants. "In recent years, I’ve come to make big pieces more often. It does not mean just giving a visual impact, but more like the audience can ‘confront the piece physically’. I make pieces as big as the human body, or even bigger."
The artist explains that two factors determine the final shape - the first is the physical ability, and the second is the emotional state of the artist.
"Glass is a rare substance called amorphous, without a crystal structure. When heat is applied, it shows a gluey characteristic. With gravity and centrifugal forces it becomes fluid, which is when you can make a shape by blowing. The breath is used to form the shape of the glass, which is influenced by two elements -the individual's physical ability such as lung capacity or muscular strength, and the maker’s identity such as emotions or thoughts. The glass is always changing, reflecting the creator’s physical and mental states."
Yokoyama has held many solo and group exhibitions throughout Japan and his pieces are praised both at home and abroad. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards, which include the Osaka University of the Arts Graduation Work Exhibition Dean Award (2008); the Japan Contemporary Crafts Art Exhibition Winner (2009); the Kanazawa International Glass Competition Jury Special Award (2013); the Toyama Art Fair First prize (2014); and the Sanyo-Onoda Contemporary Glass Exhibition Mayor Special Prize (2015). Most recently he was selected as one of the finalists at the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2018 competition, hosted by fashion brand Loewe. Yokoyama has his work exhibited in the permanent collection of the Notojima Glass Museum, Nanao, Japan.