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Courtest Stuary Semple

Artist takes on Anish Kapoor with ‘Better Black’ paint

Stuart Semple – creator of the world’s ‘pinkest pink’ and ‘glitteriest glitter’ – is now attempting to remake Vantablack

Stuart Semple, the British artist behind the world’s “pinkest pink” and “glitteriest glitter”, has revealed his latest weapon in his ongoing war against Anish Kapoor. In an attempt to best the sculptor’s prized ‘Vantablack’ pigment, Semple has today unveiled his own, “better” version – creating a paint which he calls the “flattest, mattest, blackest art material on the planet.” 

Like Vantablack, Semple’s “BLACK” is so dark that it creates a “black hole” effect. However, unlike Vantablack, it only costs £16.99 to buy and is available to anyone – unless, of course, you’re Anish Kapoor.

“It’s a beta version, so it’s not perfect, but it’s totally usable and exciting. It’s good, very good,” Semple explains. “I’m hoping a vibrant community of artists will help take it to the next level and make it the ultimate for all of us.”

The paint was created as a riposte to Kapoor, who secured the exclusive rights to Vantablack back in 2014. Because of this, no other artist is able to buy or use the pigment, which traps and absorbs 99.96 per cent of light.

Semple claims he has been crafting his own version of Vantablack for 12 years, working closely with cosmetics manufacturers, colour chemists and industrial coating experts to make it the darkest possible pigment. “It was extremely difficult,” he tells Dazed. “We got there and now have a black that reflects nearly no light. Let’s just say I didn't get a Christmas and I've not had much sleep but totally worth it.”

“(Anish Kapoor is) like some kind of end-of-game super baddie. I mean what was he thinking...” – Stuart Semple

BLACK is billed as “affordable, paintable and crucially non-toxic”, and aims to be the world’s first open-source art material. To ensure it’s the blackest it can be, the pigment is separated from the base, which allows artists an “almost infinite set of possibilities” in creating their own colours. Semple is hoping that this will help follow-up versions of the material to be even better.

“I'm really excited to see some really good ideas hatching,” he says. “I'm hoping for some good feedback and ideas so we can make a second version together with the community that truly is the best black in the world. I'm just happy that there’s a better black and anyone can use it.  I know there's some genius uses for it out there.”

BLACK follows on from Semple’s “pinkest pink” and “glitteriest glitter”: two colours which were made available to everyone but Kapoor. Despite that, the sculptor revealed back in December that he had managed to get his hands on the pink – posting an image of the paint on Instagram along with the caption “Up Yours”.

“I thought he was old enough to know better,” adds Semple. “It's one thing not to share your colours with others, but to steal my pink (which he's still not said sorry for!) and then to give the whole art community the finger! The dude's like some kind of end-of-game super baddie. I mean what was he thinking...”

Learn more about Semple’s BLACK, or buy your own, on Culture Hustle here.