Which is your favourite colour? Red? Pink? Blue? White? Never mind the colour, but how far will you be willing to go and fight for it? Not far I assume. It’s just a colour, right? If you ask a particular set of British artists, it’s much more than that.
The 2 artists in question are Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor. Stuart Semple (38) is a contemporary British artist and curator who is especially known for his large scale canvases incorporating text and found imagery. Anish Kapoor (65) is a British sculptor specialising in installation and conceptual art. Some of his famous works include the Cloud Gate, Arcelor Mittal, Ark Nova, among others. While this may be the first time you’re hearing of him, he’s a pretty big thing in the art world. That guy even has a knighthood!
From the outside, the British art space looks like a highly sophisticated and royal, one and it kind of is, like all things British. But there’s one feud that’s refusing to die down, and it’s downright petty.
It all started when a scientific research company, Surrey NanoSystems created Vantablack, one of the darkest materials ever created, absorbing 99.96% of the light that hits it. As soon as the company launched Vantablack, it started getting loads of enquires. This was because it was believed that Vantablack also looked like something someone with enough talent and resources could use to make art. One of the enquires was also from the aforementioned Kapoor and Surrey exclusively decided to work with Kapoor. They signed a contract. Kapoor got exclusive rights to use Vantablack in art.“His life’s work had revolved around light reflection and voids,” Jensen says. “Because we didn’t have the bandwidth to work with more than one—we’re an engineering company—we decided Anish would be perfect.” Said Ben Jensen, CTO at Surrey NanoSystems.
However, the deal sent the art world into a frenzy. The fact that Kapoor just locked up Vantablack exclusively for his own use didn’t sit too well with the community. Kapoor got beat up on both the social media and the press.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Semple was also one of the artists enraged about the embargo on using Vantablack and he decided to get even. He decided if he couldn’t use Anish Kapoor’s black, he’s gonna release his own pink and yes, you guessed it right, not gonna get Anish Kapoor to use it.
So he made for himself, an ultra-fluorescent pink paint. “No one has ever seen a pinker pink,” he said. He started selling the paint online, along with the hashtag #sharetheblack. That wasn’t the end of it though, with the website also containing a very special message for anyone who wanted to buy the pinkest pink -
“By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”
A Facebook event to paint Kapoor’s Cloud Gate “ The Pinkest of Pink” also started trending as an event on Facebook. However, Kapoor also wasn’t going to back down from the mayhem. He somehow got hold of the pinkest pink, and went on Instagram and did this.
The feud shows no signs of slowing down though. A new art store opened this weekend in London’s posh Mayfair district, offering premium paints and pigments to anyone, except for world-renowned artist Anish Kapoor. A security guard equipped with a photo of Kapoor is posted at the shop’s door at all times to ensure he doesn’t get in. All shoppers are required to sign a disclaimer certifying that they are not affiliated with Kapoor or there to buy paint on his behalf.
Anish Kapoor once said, “Artists don't make objects. Artists make mythologies.” With everything that has happened in the pursuit of colour, this is surely a story for the ages!