intermediary compound

November 6 - December 18, 2021

Tokyo International Gallery is pleased to present “Intermediary compound”, Yuan Fangzhou’s second solo exhibition in Japan from the 6th November.

Born in Liaoning Province, China, Yuan Fangzhou came to Japan in 2018 after graduating from Tsinghua University, majoring in Arts and Crafts. Yuan is currently enrolled in the doctoral program of the Department of Crafts at Tokyo University of the Arts and lives and works in Tokyo. He has been showing his works not only in China and Japan, but also in Korea, Czech Republic, Bangladesh and other locations around the globe. Yuan has been selected for the 24th Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art and also won the Excellence Award at the 14th Oita Asian Sculpture Exhibition.

Focusing on the relationship between people, objects and nature, Yuan’s work is based on a philosophy influenced by Eastern thought, such as post-minimalism and Buddhism, and intermingles multiple media and techniques, such as sculpture, painting and video, mainly using glass. Yuan is interested in the accidental forms that are created during the firing process of glass due to natural processes such as the transformation of the material and the force of gravity. Yuan’s research into many materials has also led Yuan to observe the world around him, and the things that surround him, creating works based on his impressions, feelings and memories of these things.

The theme of this exhibition is “Intermediates”, which is also the title of the exhibition. In the field of chemistry, the word “intermediate” means “a compound that is produced in the course of achieving a desired chemical reaction”. The term also encompasses Yuan’s work. For example, the series of works in this exhibition are made by kiln-working, a technique in which cold glass is heated in an electric furnace. In the process, the precise temperature control of the furnace is used to control the form. However, as well as this temperature control, the uncontrollable expansion, contraction and gravity of the glass are also crucial factors for Yuan. In other words, the work of art is not the purpose of production, but the act of production itself, which is a combination of coincidences, it is also the essence of the “intermediate”.

Yuan describes the electric furnace in which the work is produced as “a universe”. It is a universe in which things do not exist autonomously, but are connected to each other and change each other. Yuan’s vision of all things in the world as “intermediaries” allows his work to be a link between the self and others in time and space.


I am interested in accidental forms created during the process of glass firing, such as the transformation of the material and the effect of gravity. My research into materials has also led me to observe more closely the things that exist around me, and my work with glass is influenced by these impressions, sensations and memories of things.

In this series of works based on the theme of “intermediates”, Yuan uses kiln work, a technique of shaping glass by heating cold glass in an electric furnace. A mould surrounded by refractory bricks is placed in the kiln and powdered glass mixed with a foaming agent and metal oxide is placed in the mould. The high temperature causes the glass to heat and expand, filling the entire closed mould space. During this process, I control the moulding by controlling the temperature of the glass, but the expansion, contraction and gravity of the glass are also important factors that affect the moulding. The term ‘intermediate’ actually exists, and in chemistry it means ‘a compound that is produced in the course of a desired chemical reaction’. The concept of this word also applies to my own work, where I see the work as an ‘intermediate’ resulting from the primary act of making, rather than a purposeful creation. I also think of ‘in-between’ as the invisible link between things. I want to express through my work a reflection on the relationship between myself and others, time and space. “My aim is that the work I make will be imbued with an awareness of the ‘in-between’ and becomes a link between myself and others in time and space”.