BY Frieze News Desk in News | 31 JAN 19

Artist Makes ‘Blackest Black Paint in the World’ to Protest Anish Kapoor

Stuart Semple’s ‘black hole in a bottle’, which absorbs 99% of light, will be available to all – except Kapoor

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 31 JAN 19

‘Black 3.0’ paint. Courtesy: Stuart Semple

Three years ago, Anish Kapoor stoked the ire of the art world by acquiring the exclusive license to use the ‘Vantablack’ pigment, made from carbon nanotubes – the military-grade substance is manufactured by Surrey NanoSystems and billed as so dark that it absorbs 99.96 percent of light. Kapoor’s decision soon came under fire from fellow artists over his monopolization of the paint – and one artist has now gone a step further. Stuart Semple has launched a Kickstarter for his own brand of ultra-black paint, with the project already fully funded.

Semple has described his ‘Black 3.0’ pigment as ‘the blackest, the mattest paint in the known universe […] It’s like a black hole or a void in a bottle.’ He claims that it can absorb 99 percent of light, just shy of Vantablack’s own capabilities. Semple’s project boasts of formulating a new acrylic polymer to hold the pigment: ‘it’s special because it has more available bonds than any other acrylic polymer being used in paints […] leading to a really dense pigment load and a depth of colour not previously possible.’ His Kickstarter project has raised over GBP£63,000, surpassing its initial GBP£25,000 goal.

While Semple’s paint will be made available for all to purchase and use, his Kickstarter project names one exception: ‘By backing this project you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not backing this on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.’

Anish Kapoor next to Descent into Limbo (1992), 2018, Serralves Foundation, Porto. Courtesy: AFP; photograph: Miguel Riopa

Kapoor’s 1992 artwork Descent into Limbo, consisting of a 2.5-metre-deep hole in the ground, painted black to give the impression of an endless drop, made headlines last year after a man fell into it while it was on display at Portugal’s Serralves contemporary art museum. ‘What can I say? It is a shame,’ the artist commented.