Lecturer in Contemporary Art
Richard Hylton was born in London, England. He joined SOAS in 2021, following two years as Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Pittsburgh. Hylton studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design between 1987-1990 and MA History of Art at Goldsmiths 1998–2000.
Since the early 1990s, he has been actively involved in the visual arts sector, primarily in the UK, as an exhibition organizer, curator and editor, working for a number of public and independent galleries and educational organisations including Oldham Art Gallery Autograph and LSE. During this time, he has curated, organised and facilitated the production of numerous exhibitions involving a wide range of artists. Recent exhibitions include those by UK-based artists Barbara Walker, Ruth Maclennan, Anthony Key and Eugene Palmer. He has edited a number of important publications including The Best Janette Parris and Doublethink: The Art of Donald Rodney. In 2002 he co-produced with Virginia Nimarkoh, The Holy Bible: Old Testament an artist book by David Hammons.
Between 1996-1999, as Fellow in Visual Arts, Hylton ran Gallery II, University of Bradford where he was responsible for staging numerous exhibitions and projects including: A Bradford Atlas: Lost Empires/Salt Air, Salt March/Industrial Steps, Tim Brennan, 1997, Heads of State, Faisal Abdu'allah, curated by Bisi Silva, 1997, Night Vision, Adam Chodzko 1998, In a City, Julia Spicer, Concealed Vision, Veiled Sisters, Sabera Bham, This is History, Tam Joseph curated by Eddie Chambers, 1998, Mutant curated by Kate Smith. His other curated group exhibitions include Landscape Trauma in the Age of Scopophilia 2001, Discreet Charm 1996, Imagined Communities, 1996, Tampered Surface: Six Artists from Pakistan (with Alnoor Mitha) 1995, and Shifting Borders: What Does Europe Mean to You? 1992.
In 2018, he was awarded a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London, for the thesis ‘A Labour of Love: The Politics of Presenting Contemporary Art as Part of Commemorations to Mark the United Kingdom’s Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807-2007’.
Hylton has contributed art criticism to British and US-based journals and books including in the Routledge Companion to African American Art History, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, the International Review of African American Art, Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art and Visual Culture, Art Monthly, Art Review, Burlington Magazine and Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art. His book-length study, The Nature of the Beast: Cultural Diversity and the Visual Arts Sector, A Study of Policies, Initiatives and Attitudes 1976-2006, was published by University of Bath, England in 2007. This critical analysis, one of the first of its kind, is an invaluable read for those interested in cultural policy, arts administration, curatorial practice and contemporary visual arts. It offers hitherto unseen insight into the mechanisms and machinations which produced ‘ethnic arts’ in the late 1970s, ‘black arts’ in the 1980s, ‘new internationalism’ in the 1990s and ‘culturally diverse arts’ in the 21st century.
Hylton’s research on Diasporic art and art history includes a monographic study on British art history, race and the body politic, African American art in the international arena, and an exploration of the relationship between contemporary art, ethnography and the western museum.