Professor Paul Gladston

My Expertise

Inaugural UNSW Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art

Distinguished Affiliate Member UK-China Humanities Alliance Tsinghua University, Beijing 

Contemporary Art - including in and from the People's Republic of China and East Asia

Critical Theory

Cultural Studies



Fields of Research (FoR)

Art history, theory and criticism, Cultural studies, Philosophy, Aesthetics

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Paul Gladston 教授 ·葛思 is the inaugural UNSW Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art (2018-ongoing), a Distinguished Affiliate Member of the UK-China Humanities Alliance, Tsinghua University, Beijing (2022-ongoing) and an award-winning scholarly author. His research has had a significant impact on the direction of critical Chinese contemporary art/cultural studies inside and outside China, as evidenced by invitations...view more

Paul Gladston 教授 ·葛思 is the inaugural UNSW Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art (2018-ongoing), a Distinguished Affiliate Member of the UK-China Humanities Alliance, Tsinghua University, Beijing (2022-ongoing) and an award-winning scholarly author. His research has had a significant impact on the direction of critical Chinese contemporary art/cultural studies inside and outside China, as evidenced by invitations to work with major international institutions, the translation of several of his publications into languages other than English and supervision of Ph.D. candidates from the PR China.

He was previously Chair Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures and Critical Theory (2015-2018), Director of the Centre for Contemporary East Asian Visual Cultures (2012-2018) and Associate Professor in Culture, Film and Media (2010-2014) at the University of Nottingham (UK). He was seconded from the University of Nottingham as inaugural Head of the School of International Communications and Director of the Institute of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China (2005-2010). Under his leadership, the School of International Communications at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China grew from 38 undergraduate students in 2005-6 to over 250 undergraduate and postgraduate students and 1,000 language learners in 2009-10. As an undergraduate student he was an Ellen Battell Stoeckel scholar, Yale University (1985).

His numerous book-length publications include the co-edited collection, Visual Culture Wars at the Borders of Contemporary China: Art, Design, Film, New Media and the Prospects of “Post-West” Contemporaneity (Palgrave-Macmillan 2021), and the monographs, Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity (Bloomsbury 2019) and Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (Reaktion 2014), "publication of the year" at the Awards of Art China (2015). He recently co-organised the online academic conferences, Chinese Cultures, Translation and Contemporaneity: Literature – Cinema – Performance - the Visual Arts, in association with Institute for World Literatures and Cultures (IWLC), Tsinghua University (2022), and Rethinking the Curation of Chinese Contemporary Art, in association with the School of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland and the Asia Society, Australia (2021). He was a Visiting Professor at Sotheby’s Institute, London (2016-2018). He has recently contributed to a book by UNESCO celebrating the organisation's 75th anniversary.

He is inaugural co-editor of the peer reviewed book series Contemporary East Asian Visual Cultures, Societies and Politics (Palgrave-Macmillan 2019-ongoing) and was founding principal editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect 2014-2017). He was an academic adviser to the internationally acclaimed exhibition "Art of Change: New Directions from China"Hayward Gallery-South Bank Centre, London (2012).

He has published essays and scholarly captions in support of exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery-South Bank Centre, London; Powerhouse Museum, Shanghai; Galerie Jaeger-Bucher, Paris; Fundación Francisco Godia, Barcelona; Flowers Gallery, London; Long Museum, Chongqing; Broad art Museum, Michigan; Arriata Beer Gallery, Berlin; Aroundspace Gallery, Shanghai; and Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai. 

He was "Author of the Month" at the Zentrum für Kunst and Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM) website (2013). Other ZKM authors of the month include the internationally renowned scholars, Prof James Elkins (Chicago) and Prof Terry Smith (Chicago).  He is a regular expert contributor to international media, including Der Spiegel, Al Jazeera, Nikkei Media, Bloomberg Media, ARD (Germany), South China Morning Post, the BBC and ABC, and is the organiser and moderator of online panels as part of the Brooklyn Rail series, ‘The New Social Environment’. Brooklyn Rail has a print readership of 20,000 and 2,000,000 worldwide online. The New Social Environment has hosted such luminaries at Noam Chomsky and Ai Weiwei.

He was co-curator - with Dr. Lynne Howarth-Gladston - of the ground-breaking exhibitions, ‘New China/New Art: Contemporary Video from Shanghai and Hangzhou’, Djanogly Gallery, University of Nottingham (2015) and ‘Dis-/Continuing Traditions: Contemporary Video and Sound Art from China’, Salamanca Art Centre, Hobart, Tasmania (2021). He was moderator and co-organiser - with the Asia Society, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and UNSW Built Environment - of the prestigious annual Lloyd Rees Memorial Lecture (2019). 

“From the painstaking walk-through of theoretical issues and historical/cultural context appearing in his Prolegomenon, through the concise yet bracing conclusion, Paul Gladston's study of Zhang Peili and contemporaneity is far more than a mere biographical sketch of a single artist; it is a treatise on visual art of the present and China's particularized presence in that sphere. It is a landmark work both in terms of cultural-criticism and art-historical analysis.” –  Paul Manfredi, Professor of Chinese, Pacific Lutheran University, USA

"Paul Gladston's Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History is a vital book for future excursions in the field of contemporary Chinese Art research." - Wang Chunchen, Professor Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and curator of the China Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale 2013

"Paul Gladston's book "Avant-Garde" Art Groups in China, 1979-1989 fills gaps in our knowledge of the contemporary Chinese art scene and provides an inspiring and mind-opening narrative." - China Quarterly

“Gladston, first with his Contemporary Chinese Art: a Critical History and now with this volume of selected writings, has distinguished himself as the most brilliant Western scholar working in this field. What makes Gladston's work so indispensable is not only his prose — it is both elegant and precise — but also that he so effectively subjects Chinese work to the same criticality that anyone reasonably would expect for any first-rate writing on art from any country.” - Drew Hammond, award-winning critic and gallerist

"Gladston's analysis of the post-1989 period, and the impact of the Tiananmen Square protest on art and culture, is particularly acute and astute." - The Art Newspaper

My Grants

  • 2019 - 'Inside and Outside the Yellow Box: Rethinking Displays of Asian Art', Asia Institute and School of Creative Arts, University of Tasmania27 May 2019 - with Lynne Howarth-Gladston. Made possible by UTAS Asia Institute Award, $2,000.
  • 2018-ongoing - Judith Neilson Chair Professor of Contemporary Art endowment (AU$6,000,000)
  • 2017 – Sichuan China Fine Arts Institute Award, 2018 (£30,000) to support international conference, ‘Seeing the Unseen: Trans-cultural Perspectives on Contemporary Art in/from Asia’ Sichuan China Fine Arts Institute, People’s Republic of China. Conference Organisers: Professor Paul Gladston, University of Nottingham and Professor Lü Peng, Sichuan China Fine Arts Institute.
  • 2015 Co-I successful bid to Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation (US$25,000) to support staging of the international symposium ‘Wordimage: visual-verbal interstices in contemporary Chinese Art’, Seattle, October 2016.
  • 2014 – Funding from ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai (£25,000) to support the publication of Paul Gladston, Yu Youhan (Shanghai: 3030 Press and ShanghArt Gallery, 2015); 300 full-colour illustrations. 
  • May 2014 - Named investigator AHRC Network Project, ‘Culture, Capital and Communication: Visualising Chinese Borders in the twenty first century’. Principal Investigator Dr Rebecca Kennedy, Manchester Metropolitan University, School of History of Art and Design, Co-Investigator Dr Ming Turner, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan (AHRC contribution £26,500). Paul Gladston is cited on the successful bid as a ‘key international academic in the areas of contemporary Chinese art and border Studies’.
  • May 2014 - ‘Contemporary Art, Curating and Social Engagement in Twenty-first Century China’– PI on research project involving Guggenheim NYC, Tate, City University HK, CAFA Hangzhou, Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) Symposium and bid preparation workshop November 2014 (first meeting November 2013). Supported by CAS award (£4,700), CEACS (£500) and RAM (£20,000).
  • November 2013 - British Council award (£1,000) to support Research Workshop: ‘The Social Function of Contemporary Art in the PRC’, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai.
  • 2012 – Successful application to British Council, Shanghai to fund attendance at the first ‘Sino-UK Higher Education Symposium on Creative Media Industry, 2012’– Guangzhou and Nanjing, 2012, flights and accommodation. Also supported by successful application to University of Nottingham Inter-campus Mobility Fund (£8,000).
  • 2013 - Paul Gladston, ‘Avant-garde Art Groups in China, 1979-1989 (Bristol: Intellect and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013); 30 full-colour reproductions. Colour reproduction costs supported by ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai (£2,000).
  •  October 2009 – The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China Conference Travel Grant: Invited Speaker, Modernity’s Cultural Politics: China in Context at the Courtauld Institute of Art: ‘Curatorial Discourse and the Limits of Speech: Critical Reflections on the Third Guangzhou Triennial, Farewell to Post-Colonialism’.
  •  July 2009 – The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China ‘Light Semester’ Scheme. Completion of the manuscript for Paul Gladston, ‘Avant-garde Art Groups in China, 1979-1989 (Bristol: Intellect and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013)
  •  June 2009 – The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China Conference Travel Grant; Panel Member, Inter-Asia cultural Typhoon at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies ‘Translating Regions: Aesthetic Movements, Labour Regimes, Cultural Geographies’.
  •  September 2008 – The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China Inter-Campus Research Award, in support of the conference ‘Digital Hollywood-Digital China’ held jointly by The Institute of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China and The Institute for Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham in March 2009, (£11,000).
  •  June 2007 - The University of Nottingham, New Researchers Award, ‘Chinese Avant-Garde Art Groups and Associations of the late 1970s and 1980s’ (£7,500).
  •  April 2006 - The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China Small Research Grant, ‘A Case Study of Chi She or the ’85 New Space Group of Chinese Artists’.
  •  December 2006 – The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China Conference Travel Grant; The Association of Art Historians Annual Conference April 2007: “Representing the ‘Monster City’: The Unbearable Blandness of Song Tao and B6’s Yard”.

My Qualifications

  • 2004 - PhD Critical Theory, University of Nottingham: Art History after Deconstruction: Is There Any Future for a Deconstructive Attention to Art History?
  • 1997 - MA Critical Theory, University of Nottingham 
  • 1992 - Post-Graduate Certificate of Education, Nottingham-Trent University
  • 1986 - BA (hons.) Drawing and Painting, 1st Class, Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art 

My Awards


  • 2022 - Distinguished Affiliate of the UK-China Humanities Alliance, Tsinghua University
  • 2018 - Nominated for University of Nottingham Staff Oscar, ‘Teaching: makes best use of technology to enhance learning’ category.
  • 2017 - Winner ‘International Strategy of the Year’ category Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMA). UoN was nominated for the THELMA on the strength of its Creative Hub, which brings together science, technology and the arts to respond to changes in government policy in China and the UK, including  its museums CPD in China.  
  • 2014-16 - Paul Gladston, Joint Academic Chair, University of Nottingham China Cultural Visiting Hub (CCVH) development group. Successful development of curatorial training programme for museums and galleries in China in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • 2017 - UNNC/UNUK International Creative Economy Leadership Academy (ICELA) screen industry and museum masterclasses shortlisted for the Guardian University Awards under the ‘Best International Project’ category. 
  • 2016 - Nominated for University of Nottingham Knowledge Exchange Award. 
  • 2015 – Winner ‘Publication of the Year’, 9th Art Awards China 2015 for monograph Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (Reaktion, 2014)
  • 2013 - Nominated for University of Nottingham Staff Oscar, ‘Teaching: most inspirational teacher’ category.
  • 2012 – Freeman of Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • 1986 – Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award for Drawing
  • 1985 - Eileen Stoekel-Batell Scholar, Yale University USA
  • 1985 – Andrew Grant Travelling Scholarship, Edinburgh Colege of Art

My Research Activities

Paul Gladston is currently working on three related research projects funded by the Judith Neilson Endowment:

  1. ‘The Global Thames Arcadia’
  • Output - (PR) (FC - in press) Paul Gladston and Lynne Howarth-Gladston (2022), ‘Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art, Self-Deconstructed: David Walsh’s Anti-culturalist Curatorial Vision and the Durable Traces of English Romanticism’, Journal of Curatorial Studies
  • Output - (PR) (in preparation) Monograph: Paul Gladston and Lynne Howarth-Gladston, The Global Thames Arcadia
  1. ‘Contemporary Global Aesthetics’
  • Output – Bloomsbury ‘Contemporary Global Aesthetics’, three-book series, Paul Gladston general series editor (2022-2032)
  • Output - (FC - in press – invited publication) Paul Gladston (2022), ‘Image Bank’, Bloomsbury Philosophy Library – Bloomsbury Contemporary Aesthetics/History of Modern Aesthetics, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Output - (PA– invited publication) (PR) Paul Gladston and Lynne Howarth-Gladston (2022), ‘Chinese Confucian-literati Culture and Post-Enlightenment Philosophical Aesthetics,’ Bloomsbury Philosophy Library – Bloomsbury Contemporary Aesthetics/ History of Modern Aesthetics, London: Bloomsbury.

  • Dedicated Ph.D. research project/s 
  1. ‘Rethinking Displays of Chinese Contemporary Art’ 
  • International Conference, Rethinking the Curation of Chinese Contemporary Art (2021) 
  • Output - Collected conference edition proposal to Palgrave Macmillan (March 2022) – under review
  • International conference and related publication developed as the basis for a research exhibition and conference project with the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing (2023-2025) - involving the participation of Ph.D. students from UNSW and CAFA
  • Dedicated Ph.D. research project/s
  • With CAFA, translate and publish a series of Chinese language books on western contemporary art criticism and theory.

My Research Supervision

Supervision keywords

Areas of supervision

  • Critical Theory
  • Contemporary Chinese Art
  • Aesthetic Modernity, Postmodernity and Contemporaneity
  • Decolonisation of Museum and Gallery Spaces
  • Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power

Ph.D. Completions:


  • 2022 - Luise Guest - (In)visible Ink: Gender and National Identity in the Work of Four Contemporary Chinese Artists. Co supervised with Dr. Scott East, ADA, Art and Design. Degree awarded with minor revisions. Recommended by both external examiners for the ADA Dean's Award

University of Nottingham UK:

  • 2019 - Linda Pittwood, Representations of Women in Contemporary Chinese Art - funded by Midlands Three Cities Award (M3C) (AHRC)
  • 2018 - Renata Abou-Eid, Translating Cultures, Adapting Lives: the role of cultural interpretation in the acculturation of Polish migrants in the English East Midlands
  • 2016 - Joachin Lopez, (Non-)Rational Chinese and Western Photographic Heterotopias in Shanghai
  • 2015 - Meng Jing, TV Representations of the Cultural Revolution in China
  • 2014 - Yao Yung-wen, Cultural Diplomacy and Contemporary Chinese Art

At time of leaving the University of Nottingham in 2018 Paul Gladston was supervisor of four further Ph.D. theses

External Ph.D. examiner:

  • 2020 – Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • 2019 – University of Glasgow
  • 2019 – Chinese University of Hong Kong 
  • 2018 – Australian National University
  • 2017 – University of Glasgow
  • 2016 – Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • 2014 – University of Lancaster
  • 2013 – University of Glasgow
  • 2011 – University College London

External MFA examiner:

  • 2018 - The University of Western Australia

Currently supervising


  • 2021-continuing - Jianxiong Jing – A Multi-modal Analysis of the Interrelated Technical, Sociopolitical and Artistic/aesthetic Cultural Significances of Ancient Chinese Maps and their Relevance to Contemporary “Post-West” Cartography. Co-supervised with Dr. Marnie Feneley, ADA Humanities and Dr. Ian McArthur, ADA Art and Design. Recipient of a UNSW international scholarship.
  • 8 Ph.D applications in development

My Engagement

Lead author of the REF Impact Case 2013 (UK), ‘Adding Complexity to the Curatorial Presentation of Contemporary Chinese Art’.

‘Dr Paul Gladston's (Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Visual Culture, Nottingham, 2005-present) research has served to problematize and add complexity to the public understanding of the relationship between contemporary Chinese art and the wider conditions of its making and showing both within and outside the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC). The Chief Curator of the Hayward Gallery exhibition Art of Change: New Directions from China (2012) drew on Gladston's expertise in the exhibition's presentation. The exhibition attracted over 22,000 visitors, with international media coverage leading to wider critical engagement in broadcast and social media. A challenging review of the exhibition in The Guardian by the high-profile artist Ai Weiwei, followed by Gladston's response, stimulated broader public debate around contemporary Chinese art.’

My Teaching

Author and co-convenor of the UNSW UG programme:

  • ‘Contemporary East Asian Art: Theories and Practices’ DART231

Lead author of the BA International Communications and MA International Communications, and of the Ph.D. programme in Critical Theory/Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China (UNNC). In 2007 the BA International Communications achieved Special degree status in Zhejiang province – the first programme to do so at UNNC.

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