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Stuart Semple: The Basquiat of the Noughties

Stuart Semple artist

Born in 1980, Stuart Semple is a contemporary British artist and curator, based in London and Dorset. Known for his large scale canvases incorporating text and found imagery, Semple’s practice addresses ideas sparked by immersion in popular culture and combines contemporary figurative painting with pop art. 

Semple’s hybrid compositions often comprise of disparate appropriated and found elements which he weaves into alluring surfaces that encapsulate a deep critical analysis of contemporary culture. His world is one of low-culture internet trash, 90s Nickelodeon colour palettes, indie music, obscure music videos and cultural theory straight out of the 60s Frankfurt School. 

Working across painting, film, public art, sculpture, web art and installation, Semple brings a unique voice to the issues facing his ‘millennial’ generation particularly through his perspectives on anxiety, the impact of technology and the image world itself.  

“I’m a painter. I paint pictures and the word pictures is important to me. I don’t just do that with paint sometimes I do it with film or sculpture or illustrations, maybe with text. I make pictures. I’m interested in lots of stuff, but what tends to re-emerge is an obsession with childhood, the loss of youth. Nostalgia, and then anxiety. It comes down to a dialogue with noise and silence, the individual within the culture.” 

– Stuart Semple

He has become one of the leading exponents of a new generation of artists tackling concepts of mass popular culture through showing works in a string of international exhibitions and Biennales. Some of Semple’s major shows include,‘Fake Plastic Love’, Truman Brewery, London (2007), ‘Pop Disciple’, Aus18 Milan (2008), ‘Everlasting Nothing Less’, Anna Kustera, New York (2009), ‘The Happy House’, Morton Metropolis, London (2010), ‘It’s Hard To Be A Saint in This City’ Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong (2012) ‘Suspend Disbelief’, The Heritage Rooms, London (2013), ‘Anxiety Generation’, Delahunty, London (2014) and ‘My Sonic Youth’ Fabien Castanier, Los Angeles (2015). 

Semple first came to attention in 2009 through his public art project ‘HappyCloud’ in which he released thousands of smiley faced clouds made from soap and helium from Tate Modern towards the city of London, which led him to receive a Happiness Hero medal at the House of Lords on the UN’s first International Day of Happiness. The public art project has been repeated in Milan during Salone De Mobile, Moscow, Australia and Dublin. 

This year, has instigated an online collaborative art performance in which Semple disseminated his own series of innovative art materials including The World’s Pinkest Pink and Black 2.0, which according to Semple is the “flattest, mattest, blackest art material on the planet”, and can be purchased by anyone – excluding artist Anish Kapoor! 

The release of the pigment follows an ongoing colour feud between Semple and Kapoor, which begun when Kapoor secured exclusive rights to use VantaBlack in artworks. Recently, Semple also released the “world’s pinkest pink” and again has banned Kapoor from using it. 

The project has been featured in The Times, W Magazine, Buzzfeed, Vice, BBC, i-D, The Monocle, Le Figaro The IndependentDazed, Art Net News and others. 


Stuart Semple Artworks Available at Imitate Modern 

Works are presented in association with Roberta Moore Contemporary

Stuart Semple, My Heaven is Inside Series

Digital Print on Sapele 

Hand-finished with Gesso

76 x 56 cm 

Edition of 4



Stuart Semple, Dem Bones 

Digital Print on Perspex

90 x 45 x 48 cm 

Edition of 4 + 2 AP


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