On Wednesday, March 27, 2019, the Ottawa Art Gallery hosted a lecture given by Paul Gladston on ‘A Closer Look at Contemporary Chinese Art’.

During the last four decades, contemporary Chinese art has become increasingly prominent on the international stage. Despite a series of high-profile exhibitions worldwide since the late 1980s and the international fame of the artist Ai Weiwei, the varied significances of contemporary Chinese art nevertheless remain largely obscure to audiences outside China. Contemporary Chinese art is not defined simply by concerns with political censorship within China. It also raises serious issues about the relationship of contemporary art to politics, society and cultural identity more widely. What sort of dialogue do contemporary Chinese artists have with western art and the art of the Chinese diaspora? How do they respond to China’s five-thousand-year history and civilization? In this talk the award-winning cultural historian and critic, Paul Gladston responded to these and other questions by discussing contemporary Chinese art from differing international and localized Chinese perspectives. In doing so, he seeks to open up a broader transcultural understanding of contemporary Chinese art beyond the limited and often prejudicial view of the Euro-American artworld as well as restrictions imposed on the public showing and interpretation of contemporary art inside a still politically authoritarian China.

Paul Gladston is the inaugural Judith Neilson Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of New South Wales and was previously Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures and Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham. His recent book-length publications include Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (2014), which received ‘publication of the year’ at the Award of Art China 2015. He was founding principal editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art from 2014 to 2017 and an academic adviser to the internationally acclaimed exhibition Art of Change: New Directions from China staged at the Hayward Gallery-South Bank Centre London in 2012.