The feud between Stuart Semple and Anish Kapoor has taken to the streets, as this weekend Semple opened an art supplies store in London’s Mayfair and installed security personnel with the sole purpose of keeping out Kapoor. ArtShop is a concept store selling products such as the “blackest black” paint that started the whole dispute, as well as the Pinkest Pink and holographic pigments, available from Semple’s online store Culture Hustle.
ArtShop is the newest episode in the saga, which asks shoppers to sign a declaration on entry, agreeing not to share products with Kapoor or his associates. “It’s annoying,” Semple tells It’s Nice That, “but since Kapoor broke the terms of service on the website and got his hands on the Pinkest Pink, I’ve had to step up security. I’ve got a security guard on the door with a photo of Kapoor, and I’m making sure everyone who comes signs an agreement that they are not Kapoor before they enter, so I’m pretty confident he won’t get in!”
The feud between Semple and Kapoor began in 2017, when Anish Kapoor acquired the exclusive rights to Vantablack, the “world’s blackest black” paint. Stuart Semple became the figurehead for a community of artists who felt this exclusivity wasn’t in the spirit of creative freedom of expression, and made the Pinkest Pink paint pigment, which he banned Kapoor from using. Kapoor responded by purchasing the pigment online and posting a photo on Instagram of his middle finger dipped in the powder, with the caption “Up yours #pink.” Since then, Semple has released Black 2.0 and Black 3.0, among other products for creative use – unless you are Kapoor.
The store is a sideline venture for Semple, who continues to practice as an artist despite a burgeoning retail business. “I wouldn’t say I’ve become a retailer, I’m still an artist. ArtShop is quite a conceptual work, with some big sculptural elements. I collaborated with “The Syrup Room”:https://www.thesyruproom.com/ on a lot of the interior, right down to the custom coat hangers that are laser cut from sheet steel and powder coated. I have been sharing a lot of the paint I make for my work with others around the world via the website, and it’s kind of grown and taken on a bit of a life of its own. A lot of people ask where they can come and see the colours in person, so a space in London for them to do that seemed like a good idea.
“I’m hoping the space will be more of a place where people can come, explore colour, perhaps make some things and talk about ideas. I’m intrigued to see how it flows and what it turns into. It’s interesting because it’s an artistic concept but it’s right in the middle of Mayfair in amongst the biggest high-end fashion retailers. It’s a bit scary because as I’ve been going through this I’ve realised just how little I know. I’m very much learning on the job! I’m hoping it’s a really inclusive place, where everyone feels welcome and creators and makers from all over the world might come together to geek over art materials and colours.
“The community has been really supportive. I feel really lucky that I get to make a shop for them. A few months ago I put the Blackest Black paint I made on Kickstarter and I couldn’t believe it when so many artists that I never met stepped up to support what I’ve been doing. It was just really lovely to know that artists can be there for one another.”
“ArtShop is open now”:https://culturehustle.com/pages/visit-us, at 49 South Molton Street, London. Stuart Semple’s upcoming show, _Dancing On My Own: Selected Works 1999 – 2019_, opens 9 August – 7 September 2019 at Bermondsey Project Space.