UNSW Art & Design presents at 4A: Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity



Free but registrations required.

Join Paul Gladston, Inaugural Judith Neilson Professor of Contemporary Art at UNSW, in conversation about his latest book – with Alan Cruickshank, editor of di’van | A Journal of Accounts at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art: 

About the book Contemporary Chinese Art, Aesthetic Modernity and Zhang Peili: Towards a Critical Contemporaneity:

In recent decades the previously assumed dominance within the international art world of western(ized) conceptions of aesthetic modernity has been challenged by a critically becalming diversification of cultural outlooks widely referred to as ‘contemporaneity’. Contributing to that diversification are assertions within mainland China of essential differences between Chinese and other artistic cultures.

 In response to the critical impasse posed by contemporaneity, Paul Gladston charts a historical relay of mutually formative interactions between western(ised) post-Enlightenment artworlds and those prevalent historically and contemporaneously within China as part of a new transcultural theory of artistic criticality. Informed by deconstructivism as well as syncretic Confucianism, Gladston extends this theory to a reading of the work of the artist Zhang Peili and his involvement with the Hangzhou-based art group, the Pond Association (Chi she). Revealed is a critical aesthetic productively resistant to any single interpretative viewpoint, including those of Chinese exceptionalism and the supposed immanence of deconstructivist uncertainty.

Addressing art in and from the People’s Republic of China as a significant aspect of post-West contemporaneity, Gladston provides a new critical understanding of what it means to be ‘contemporary’ and the profound changes taking place in the art world today.

“essential reading for a better understanding of contemporary Chinese art and visual culture in the global context.”

–  Jason C. Kuo, Professor of Chinese Art, University of Maryland, USA

“a landmark work both in terms of cultural-criticism and art-historical analysis”

–  Paul Manfredi, Professor of Chinese, Pacific Lutheran University, USA

“anchor[s] reflections on issues of immense contemporary importance”

– Johnson Chang, Curatorial Director, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong

“an important contribution to critical discourse on contemporary art”

–  Birgit Hopfener, Associate Professor of Art History, Carleton University, Canada

About the speakers:

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. Paul has written extensively on contemporary Chinese art with regard to the concerns of critical theory and, in doing so, has been formative on the development of a critically informed contemporary Chinese art studies both internationally and inside China. His recent book-length publications include Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History (2014), which received ‘publication of the year’ at the Awards 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.

Alan Cruickshank is the founding editor and publisher of di’van | A Journal of Accounts, a new journal now in its third year offering critical interpretations on contemporary visual art and its art-historical, theoretical and socio-political contexts in the greater Asia-Pacific region. Alan was previously Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide and Editor of Broadsheet magazine between 2000 and 2015. He is currently Honorary Fellow, Centre for Visual Arts, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.