Apologies, Rediscoveries and Vantablack “2.0”

Vantablack gets darker, the pioneering female abstract impressionist painter Sonia Gechtoff passes and We Are Not Surprised speak out again.

Cast your mind back to 2016, when Anish Kapoor sparked outrage for buying the exclusive rights to Vantablack, said to be the world’s blackest black, a pigment that absorbs 99.96% of all visible radiation. Now, the British company behind the pigment, NanoSystems, has developed a second version, VBx2, and architect Asif Khan has used it to coat his pavilion for the Winter Olympics in Korea. The structure is dotted with constellations of little white lights, like a slice of the darkest night sky.

This week we also learned about the sad loss of an important but often overlooked member of the abstract expressionist movement, Sonia Gechtoff. The Painter died on 1 February at the age of ninety-one, and remained committed to painting late into life, according to Gwen Chanzit, curator of Denver exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism which championed Gechtoff’s work. Having moved to San Francisco in 1951 the artist became a key figure in the Bay Area scene, hanging out with the likes of Hassel Smith and Deborah Remmington. She was a pioneer in her use of the palette knife to create angular and energetic forms across the canvas, a technique that was later developed by Jay DeFeo.

Across the Atlantic, a lost work by contemporary Nigerian painter Ben Enwonwu has been discovered by a family in their North London flat. In what novelist Ben Okri describes as “the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over fifty years”. The painting was identified by Giles Peppiatt, the director of modern and contemporary African art at Bonhams, as Enwonwu’s 1974 Tutu, one of a famous but thought to be lost trio of portraits of Adetutu Ademiluyi, daughter of a former ruler of Ife.

We Are Not Surprised (or WANS) spoke out again this week, calling for a boycott of Artforum until it removes Knight Landesman—who after stepping down as publisher last Autumn remains co-owner of the publication—and acknowledges the case of Amanda Schmitt. In an open letter published on Thursday the group stated: “We’re tired of the sweet talk and empty politics.” Since then, Artforum has issued its own statement claiming that Landesman no longer has any influence over the magazine, and that the magazine in no way joined to his defence.

Tate director Maria Balshaw has apologized for comments she made to the Times about sexual harassment, saying she has “never suffered such issues” as she was “raised to be a confident woman”. Early on 9 February she responded to an Instagram post made by Not Surprised about her remarks, commenting “I am sorry if this has been misunderstood. It is absolutely not my intention to say that women are in any way to blame. To be clear, it is the perpetrators who are responsible for their behaviour and not the women who are subjected to it.”