Stuart Semple – creator of the world’s blackest- black painting colour

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.”

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…”

text drained by dazed

Mixtape #4: Flash Back to 90’s

Freestyler:

It was released in October 1999 in Finland as the third single of Bomfunk MC’s. It was a worldwide success, topping the charts in Sweden, Germany, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. It also peaked at number two in Denmark and the United Kingdom and number three in Ireland.

Insomnia:

“Insomnia” is a song recorded by British dance group Faithless. Released as the band’s second single, it became one of their most successful. It was released in 1995 and became a hit in Dance Charts while peaking at number 27 in the UK in 1995 and number 3 in 1996. It re-entered the UK charts in 2005 at number 17 after the release of their greatest hits compilation Forever Faithless and was certified Platinum by the BPI in 2015. It was voted by Mixmag readers as the fifth greatest dance record of all time. The main refrain of Insomnia is a heavy sample of 1989′ Let me love you for tonight by UK artist Kariya.

Blue (Da Ba Dee):

“Blue (Da Ba Dee)” is a hit song by the Italian music group Eiffel 65. It was released on 15 January 1999 as the lead single from their debut album Europop. The song is the group’s most popular single, reaching number one in many countries such as Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Australia, and Germany, as well as reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the song originally entered the top 40 purely on import sales. It was only the third single to do this. The song also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording at the 2001 Grammy Awards.

Poem of the day: Walking Around by Pablo Neruda

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don’t want so much misery.
I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the
night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical
cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

Artists From Around the World Illustrate Their Feelings on the new political era

It happened. The inauguration has come and gone and Donald Trump has taken over from Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America.

The world has responded with their well wishes, support, protests, tweets and predictions as to how big Trump’s inauguration audience was.

Artists have also given their varied opinions, in art form. We have been inundated with images penned by some of the world’s best artists, and have put together some of our favorites here.

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Poem of the day: The German hotel

The only poet who could say what’s going on without any metaphorical words.

“The German hotel was very strange and expensive and had
double doors to the rooms, very thick doors, and it over-
looked the park and the vasser tern and in the mornings
it was usually too late for breakfast and the maids
would be everywhere changing sheets and bringing in
towels, but you never saw any hotel guests, only the
maids and the desk man and the day desk man was all
right because we were sober during the day but we had
trouble with the night man who was some sort of snob
and not very good with getting the corkscrews and ice
and wine glasses up to us and he was always phoning to
say the other guests objected to our noise.
what other guests?
I always told him that everything was very quiet,
nothing was going on, that somebody must be crazy, so
will you please stop ringing?
but he kept ringing, he became almost like a
companion to us through the night.
but the day man was very nice, he always had little
messages of importance that either meant money, or a
good friend coming to see us, or both.
we stayed at the hotel twice during our trip to
Europe and each time we checked out the day clerk
bowed ever so slightly, he was tall and well-dressed
and pleasant and he said each time: “it was nice to
have you with us. please come here again if you return.”

“thank you,” we said, “thank you.”

it’s our favourite hotel and if I ever get rich I am
going to buy it and fire the night clerk and there will
be enough ice cubes and corkscrews for everybody. ”

Charles Bukowski

Suket Dhir: The Punjabi global fashion superstar

𝓘ndia is a paradoxical country. And Suket Dhir is a paradoxical guy. Born in Banga, India, he is an unshorn and unshaven Punjabi Hindu who styles himself a “wannabe Sikh”; a self-described former “slacker” now blissfully married to a Russian-Indian woman, Svetlana Dhir, who manages the business; a creative talent eager to compete on the global stage, and yet one who shares his small studio office with his elderly father.

He is also an expert craftsman whose subtle tailoring was recognized last January with one of the most prestigious honors in fashion, the International Woolmark Prize, an award that has also gone to Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.

The judges who selected Mr. Dhir as the latest recipient focused their praise on the romantic and internationalized vision of the designer, whose last foray outside India (before traveling to Florence, Italy, to collect the $75,000 in prize money) was a brief trip to Dubai two decades earlier.

Perhaps most appealing of Mr. Dhir’s contradictions is how his restrained tailoring honors and deftly makes use of a range of the varied craft traditions that remain among the wonders of India while simultaneously mining a design vocabulary partly formed by his habit of binge-watching “Seinfeld.”

Mr. Dhir in New Delhi. “A friend said, ‘Do you know what you want to do with your life?’ And I didn’t.”CreditJake Michaels for The New York Times

Almost a year after winning the Woolmark prize, he was scrambling to complete and deliver a collection, his first to be sold outside India, to department stores in Tokyo; Sydney, Australia; Seoul, South Korea; and New York. (Saks Fifth Avenue will feature elements from Mr. Dhir’s label, called Sukhetdhir, starting in December.)

At the time of my visit, the deadline for the first shipments was just over a week away. Tailors in a back room sat patiently at their silent machines. A cutter scissored through layers of denim methodically in the dimly lit room. A brownout coinciding with crunch time may induce at the very least a tantrum for some designers. Yet with the cool of a sannyasi or a stoner, Mr. Dhir suggested a coffee run.

The spot he chose was Blue Tokai, a hipster joint that is part coffee bar and part industrial grindery. There, amid a clatter of trays and a general conversational din, the soft-spoken chatterbox sketched out the unlikely path he had taken from being an aimless and indifferent student, to “that obnoxious voice” consumers across the world hear when call-center dialers manage to entrap them (“I sold mobile phones for AT&T”), to the great hope for Indian design.

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It was at the call center, Mr. Dhir said, that he polished the rough edges off his Punjabi-accented English (a stint at a fancy boarding school probably helped, too). And it was there that he transformed his manner of speaking into a cross between upper-class Indian English and generic American.

“Actually, the great thing about the call center was that you worked all night and slept all day, so you never had a chance to spend any money,” Mr. Dhir said over an iced latte. “I saved a lot and started using the money to travel around India: to Goa, the mountains, Pondicherry and Dharamsala.”

When he was in his 20s, Mr. Dhir came to the realization that he had no five-year, or even five-minute, plan. “A friend said, ‘Do you know what you want to do with your life?’” he said. “And I didn’t. And I actually had tears in my eyes.”

That same friend then made a canny observation: Perhaps a career cue lay hidden in plain sight. He pointed to Mr. Dhir’s habitual doodling, his knack for dressing differently from his friends (in LA Gear tracksuits and Fila sneakers) and his near-obsession with FTV, a fashion-focused satellite video channel.

“He said, ‘Have you ever thought of fashion?’” Mr. Dhir said. “To be honest, I never had.”

Mr. Dhir applied to the elite National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, was accepted and quickly gravitated toward men’s wear.

“Fashion at this time is about a dream,” Haider Ackermann, the Berluti designer who was one of the Woolmark prize judges, said at the ceremony granting the award. “Suket is a person with a dream to tell.”

While in design school, Mr. Dhir developed elements of his vision: silhouettes cultivated by his father and grandfather — pocketed Nehru jackets, natty blazers worn over flowing trousers — and a magpie assortment of nostalgic motifs picked up from the Western films and television reruns that first appeared regularly in India with the arrival of satellite TV.

Not every designer cites, with Mr. Dhir’s catholicity of taste, inspirations as disparate as Clark Gable’s swallowtail coats from “Gone With the Wind” and Paul Hogan’s groovy buccaneer drag from “Crocodile Dundee.”

Mr. Dhir at a night market in New Delhi. CreditJake Michaels for The New York Times

For the panel awarding the Woolmark prize — it included the fashion critic Suzy Menkes; Nick Sullivan, the men’s wear director at Esquire; Masafumi Suzuki, the editor of GQ Japan; and Raffaello Napoleone, director of the Pitti Uomo men’s wear fair in Florence — the clincher was the way Mr. Dhir’s designs update traditional Indian garments while relying on ancient techniques.

“We appreciated the strong creativity but also the work on the fabrics and materials, so the choice of Suket was very natural,” Mr. Napoleone wrote by email, referring to tie-and-dyed ikat yarn, hand-block printing, arduous spinning and weaving methods that give a silklike texture to fibrous wool.

“There were two camps,” said Eric Jennings, a vice president and men’s wear fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue. “One was looking for something more trend-relevant, and one was more interested in the emotional side of the story.”

If emotion won the day, trend relevance did not come off too badly, since one of the first things Saks ordered from Mr. Dhir’s new collection was an indigo bomber jacket covered with pin-tucked pleats so minutely hand-stitched that they resemble trompe l’oeil.

It is possible, too, that what the judges detected in Mr. Dhir was something more significant than a single breakout talent. In a sense, his surprise win signaled a generational shift in Indian design. He would not be the first, or even the most gifted, of Indian designers in recent decades to skirt the clichés afflicting Indian fashion.

Text/interview drained by nytimes.com