Professor Paul Gladston

My Expertise

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

Critical Theory

Cultural Studies


Fields of Research (FoR)

Art history, theory and criticism, Cultural studies, Philosophy

SEO tags


Paul Gladston is the inaugural Judith Neilson Professor (Chair) of Contemporary Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney (2018-ongoing). He was previously Professor (Chair) 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). Prior to that, he was...view more

Paul Gladston is the inaugural Judith Neilson Professor (Chair) of Contemporary Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney (2018-ongoing). He was previously Professor (Chair) 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). Prior to that, he was seconded from the University of Nottingham to serve 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. During his time at the University of Nottingham, Paul received "exceeds expectations" awards on six occasions.

Paul was Visiting Professor at Sotheby’s Institute, London (2016-2018) and the Sichuan China Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing (2009), and was a distinguished speaker at the 'China-Britain Cultural Dialogue Conference', Trinity College, University of Oxford - part of events accompanying president of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK (2015). As an undergraduate student, he was an Ellen Battell Stoeckel scholar, Yale University (1985) and an Andrew Grant travelling scholar, Edinburgh College of Art (1986). He is the recipient of a Greenshield Award for Drawing (1986).

Paul received a Masters degree and a PhD in Critical Theory from the University of Nottingham, the first in Europe to establish a dedicated centre for critical theory. He has written extensively about contemporary art with particular reference to the concerns of critical theory and has impacted significantly for more than a decade on the development of a critically-informed Chinese Contemporary Art Studies, within and outside greater China. His book-length publications include Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (Reaktion 2014), which received "publication of the year" at the Awards of Art China (2015). His most recent monograph, Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity (Bloomsbury 2019) has been described as "a landmark work" and "essential reading". He is currently co-editing the collection, Visualising Chinese Borders in the 21st Century (Leuven University Press), an output of an AHRC (UK) funded research project of which Paul was a named investigator and the first book-length publication to address the subject. He is also co-authoring a book, Dis-/Continuing Traditions: Critical Interventions with Confucian Aesthetics by Chinese Women Artists, with Dr Lynne Howarth-Gladston, in addition to co-organising an online international symposium, Rethinking the Curation of Chinese Contemporary Art: toward "post-West" art worlds, political economies, spatial practices and historiographies, which will be staged in conjunction with the School of Art History and Archeology, University of Maryland, University Park MA (April 2021).

Paul is inaugural lead 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), the first of its kind in any language. 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 is deputy editor of the peer reviewed book series, Contemporary Chinese Art (Springer 2014-ongoing) and contributing editor to the journal, Eyeline (2010-ongoing). He is, in addition, an editorial or advisory board member to numerous journals, including: Modern China StudiesThe Journal of Visual Art PracticeCulture and DialogueChinese Contemporary Art Studies, and di'van - a Journal of Accounts.

Essays and scholarly captions by Paul have been published in numerous exhibition catalogues, including 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. A scholarly essay by Paul Gladston and Lynne Howarth-Gladston will be republished in a catalogue accompanying an exhibition of the work of the artist Fu Xiaotong at Chambers Fine Art, New York and Beijing (2021).  

Paul was "Author of the Month" (January 2013) at the Zentrum für Kunst and Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM) website: "(Re-) Constructing Contemporary Chinese Art: Towards a Polylogue between International and Chinese Theoretical Paradigms". Other ZKM authors of the month include the internationally renowned scholars, Prof James Elkins (Chicago) and Prof Terry Smith (Chicago). The invitation to contribute came as a result of Paul's work as an academic adviser to "Art of Change: New Directions from China".

He was co-curator - with Dr Lynne Howarth-Gladston - of the ground-breaking exhibition, "New China/New Art: Contemporary Video from Shanghai and Hangzhou", Djanogly Gallery, University of Nottingham (2015). Lynne and Paul are currently co-curating two exhibitions: "Dis-/Continuing Traditions: Contemporary Video and Sound Art from China", Salamanca Art Centre, Hobart, Tasmania (19 February-7 March 2021); and "Dis-/Continuing Traditions: Contemporary Art from China", Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (April-May 2021). 

Paul is co-organiser - with UNSW Judith Neilson post-doctoral researcher, Dr Yu-Chieh Li - of the "UNSW Presents" Seminar series at the 4A Center for Asian Art, Sydney (2019-ongoing). He was also 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), given by Dang Qun, a founding partner at the internationally celebrated architecture firm, MAD Beijing. Paul's recent public talks include "A Closer Look at Contemporary Chinese Art", Ottawa Art Gallery, Canada (2019). He is an expert contributor and op ed. writer to the China Daily newspaper, an expert contributor to the South China Morning Post and a contributing author to, the latter by invitation of the internationally renowned scholar and critic David Carrier. Paul has made numerous media appearances, including for the BBC and China Radio International.

References to Paul's scholarly publications in international artworld contexts include: Frieze; and Artnet News,

Paul's recent book-length publications include:

Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity - Bloomsbury Academic (literature and Philosophy) "Aesthetics and Contemporary Art" series, David Carrier and Tiziana Adina eds. (London: Bloomsbury, 2019) ISBN-10: 1350041971 ISBN-13: 978-1350041974

“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

"With its judicious application of critical theory, this book will be essential reading for a better understanding of contemporary Chinese art and visual culture in global contexts." - Jason C. Kuo, Professor of Chinese Art, University of Maryland, USA

"an important contribution to critical discourses on contemporary art...convincingly argues to conceive of contemporary art in general as constituted transculturally" - Birgit Hopfener, Associate Professor of Art History, Carleton University, Canada

“ambitious [elucidation of] the idea of contemporaneity in the present debate about Chinese art.” –  Frank Vigneron, Professor and Chairperson, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Deconstructing Contemporary Chinese Art: Selected Critical Writings and Conversations, 2007-2014 (Heidelberg-Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2016) ISBN 13: 978-3-662-46487-8

“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 art critic and Exhibitions Director ACE Gallery, Los Angeles

Yu Youhan (Shanghai: 3030 Press and ShanghArt Gallery, 2015) ISBN 13: 978-988-99384-9-9

“The veteran art practitioner Yu Youhan is probably one of the most underrated artists in the contemporary Chinese art world. This monograph by Paul Gladston provides illuminating insights into Yu Youhan’s art in the context of wider critical reflections on society and culture in China. It carries research on contemporary Chinese art a step further in respect of theoretical depth and scholarly standards.” - Bao Dong, principal editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art Studies

Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (London: Reaktion and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014) ISBN 13: 978-1-78023-269-0 - ‘Best Publication’, Awards of Art China 2015

“Gladston's work is thorough and concise, theoretically informed and clearly argued. An excellent book ****” – Prof Paul Manfredi, Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle

Avant-garde’ Art Groups in China, 1979-1989 (Bristol: Intellect and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013) ISBN 13: 978-1-84150-715-6

“…an original approach…Gladston has performed a signal function in making a good deal of information available now, and indicating many paths for future researchers to follow.” – Prof John Clark, China Journal

Contemporary Art in Shanghai: Conversations with Seven Chinese Artists (Hong Kong: Blue Kingfisher/Timezone 8, 2011) ISBN 13: 978-988-15063-7

Paul Gladston (ed.), China and Other Spaces: Selected Essays from the Research Seminar Series of the Institute of Comparative Cultural Studies, Ningbo 2005-07 (Nottingham: CCCP press, 2009) ISBN 13: 978-1-905510-22-1

Art History after Deconstruction: Is There Any Future for a Deconstructive Attention to Art History? (Auckland: Magnolia Press, 2005) ISBN 1-877354-80-5

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.
  • 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


  • 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 is currently working on four research publication projects:

  1. A book co-written with Dr Lynne Howarth-Gladston, provisionally titled, Tradition Dis-/Continued: Contemporary Chinese Women’s Art and Confucian Aesthetics, on interventions by three contemporary Chinese women artists into the traces of the masculinist-elitist neo-Confucian aesthetic tradition.
  2. A monograph, provisionally titled, Three Prominences, that meditates critically on trans-/intra-cultural as well as trans-historical resonances between three works of art: Fan Kuan's Travellers Among Mountains and Streams (C12th), Masaccio's The Trinity , and Duchamp's, Fountain.
  3. A book co-written with Dr Lynne Howarth-Gladston, provisionally titled (Inside and) Outside the (Yellow) Box: Rethinking Displays of East Asian Art, related to Hong Kong gallerist Johnson Chang's intervention in the international curatorial paradigm of the White Cube, known as the Yellow Box.
  4. A monograph, provisionally titled, Contemporary Art is Rubbish!

My Research Supervision

Supervision keywords

Areas of supervision

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

Previous successful PhD students include:

  • 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 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 Paul was supervisor of four PhD theses


Paul has been an external PhD examiner at:


  • 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

and an external MFA examiner at:


  • 2018 - The University of Western Australia

Currently supervising

  • Ms Luise Guest: (In)visible Ink: Gender and National Identity in the Work of Four Contemporary Chinese Artists. PhD candidate UNSW.

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

Paul is the lead author and co-convenor of the programme:

  • Contemporary East Asian Art

He was the lead author of the BA International Communications and MA International Communications, and of the PhD programme in critical theory/cultural studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. In 2007 the BA International Communications achieved Special degree status in Zhejiang province – the first programme to do so at UNNC.

View less


UNSW | Art & Design
UNSW Sydney
Paddington campus
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd,
Paddington, NSW 2021


+61 2 8936 0778