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via @stuartsemple / Instagram

Anish Kapoor banned from using the world’s ‘pinkest’ paint

The sculptor is unable to buy the product unless he drops his exclusive Vantablack deal

In July 2014, British tech company NanoSystem invented the world’s darkest man-made substance. The pigment, known as ‘Vantablack’, was seen as the blackest ever black – capable of absorbing 99.96 per cent of light, and akin to looking into “a black hole.” At the time, its development was seen as a breakthrough for science and the military, with many also speculating over the colour’s potential creative applications.

However, after securing a deal with NanoSystem just months after its creation, Anish Kapoor managed to be given exclusive rights to Vantablack. The British-Indian sculptor is now, officially, the only artist in the world who is able to use or paint with the pigment. 

“Vantablack is a major breakthrough and we think it could change the way we see the universe,” NanoSystem’s Chief Technology Officer Ben Jensen said at the time. “We are delighted that an artist of Anish Kapoor’s stature and reputation is interested in exploring its possibilities in the creative sphere.”

Predictably, the deal has since proven to be pretty unpopular – and in an act of retaliation, another artist has decided to make their own exclusive paint. Stuart Semple’s new pigment, titled ‘PINK’, is marketed as the world’s “pinkest pink”, and was reportedly developed over a decade with global paint labs. It is available to buy for everyone – unless you’re Anish Kapoor. 

“When I first heard that Anish had the exclusive rights to the blackest black I was really disappointed,” Semple explained last month. “I was desperate to have a play with it in my own work and I knew lots of other artists who wanted to use it too. It just seemed really mean-spirited and against the spirit of generosity that most artists who make and share their work are driven by.”

Semple requires all buyers to sign a legal declaration at the checkout, which ensures that the paint can never be bought by Kapoor, or by anyone affiliated with Kapoor. While he is yet to scientifically prove the paint is actually the “pinkest” in the world, he claims to have it on good authority that the sculptor is “desperate” to have some. 

“I thought a good comment would be if I made a paint that was available to everyone but exclude him from using it,” the artist added. “That way he can have a taste of his own medicine!”

Kapoor’s Vantablack deal has also sparked a #ShareTheBlack social media campaign, which sees artists from around the world ask the sculptor to drop the rights to the pigment, and make it available to everyone.

Semple’s PINK paint is available to buy for £3.99 from Culture Hustle.