The "color war" between British artists Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor has entered a new, rainbow-hued round of conflict. It all started back when Kapoor got exclusive rights to use Vantablack paint, the blackest of blacks, and wouldn't share it with other artists. Semple retorted by making the pinkest pink, which anyone could buy except Kapoor. Kapoor, however, got his hands on it, well, his middle finger, and Semple made more products that could be bought by anyone but Kapoor, like the glitteriest glitter, the mattest black, and more.
Now, the latest twist has seen Semple create a color-changing rainbow paint. Well, two color-changing rainbow paints called Shift and Phaze. Of course, Kapoor is again barred from buying them, but this time it's not because of the Vantablack hoarding, it's in support of the neighbors of Kapoor's studio in Camberwell, London. The residents, who have launched a petition against Kapoor, say that a planned extension, an extra floor, to his studio will block "our precious light & view, a valuable thing in our crowded city."
The residents got in contact with Semple, who used to live and have a studio in Camberwell, and asked if he might lend his support, which he did by launching the two paints.
The Shift paint has been made using a type of Chiral Nematic liquid crystal Semple's studio says is a "living substance, more expensive than gold." They explain, "There are over 250 different kinds of liquid crystals, they all have different characteristics — some change color, some copulate. Stuart chose this particular strain as, even though it's extremely expensive and quite rare, it has the best color potency. It shifts through the spectrum between 24 degrees and 28 degrees." The paint is made to be used over Semple's matte Black 2.0.
The Phaze paint, meanwhile, combines two pigments, Semple's pinkest pink and a pigment used in his Purple Haze paint. At 28 degrees, the purple color disappears leaving the pinkest pink. The artist initially developed both colors for a series of sculptures he's working on. Now he's also lent them to this cause.
The rainbow paints are pitched as the "final blow in [the] Anish Kapoor art war," which has seen Semple respond to Kapoor's procuring of the pinkest pink with a letter to the Lisson Gallery. The gallery purchased the paint for the artist, so Semple asked in a tongue-in-cheek letter for an apology, or the return of the pink, or for Kapoor to share Vantablack.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Kapoor responded to a Buzzfeed News article about the pinkest pink with, "This product is using Anish Kapoor's name as a promotion tool. We have now put this matter to our lawyers who will take appropriate action."
It's not known if any action has yet been taken. As for Semple, he says the artistic community has responded with support. "It's been amazing. I can't quite believe how many people are making amazing things with the materials," he tells Creators. "Stuff I'd never even thought would be possible! Every time I see a new piece of work on the #sharetheblack hashtag I feel so excited, and I know that it proves to Kapoor and the creators of Vantablack that color hoarding and robbing are wrong. It shows that as a community, artists together can push things forward. There really is a nicer way to go about things than marauding round like elitist rotters."
See more of Stuart Semple's work at his website. Visit Culture Hustle if you want to purchase the Phaze or Shift paints.