IN: Inspiration


By working with unorthodox materials, New York based artist Erik Sommer investigates the hidden wonder of cityscapes and the beauty in impermanence. Find out how this artist breathes new life into the forgotten through painting with cement.


Erik Sommer is a contemporary artist living and working in New York City. Erik draws his inspiration from the built-up, frenetic cityscapes that surround him. Working with cement and other unusual materials, Erik produces paintings that depict the passing of time against an urban backdrop, and the often unexpected beauty found in the forgotten.

Erik Sommer


Commenting on his work, Erik says that cement works as the perfect vehicle for expression. “I use cement because I am attracted to urban grittiness. I like cement’s subtleties, and its various tones and shades and textures. I enjoy manipulating it to create broken, peeled pieces of beauty.”

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Another Rain Song, gesso, oil, acrylic, pastes, cement on canvas (Source:

Erik is fascinated by the built environment; how buildings are changed, forgotten destroyed and repurposed. Walls are painted and repainted and left to peel. Pavements crack and chip away. He sees these outcomes of urban life as a metaphor for all human creation – that it is cyclical and impermanent. In Erik’s words, “I am interested in capturing the passing of time and preserving it as a reflection on mortality.”

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The Red Echo, gesso, oil, acrylic, pastes, cement on canvas (Source:

During the day, Erik works as a librarian and at night, he works in his studio in Harlem. He works on a number of paintings at one time, adding layers upon layers until he feels they are complete. On average, he manages to finish between 7-9 pieces over 3-5 months. Combing industrial materials through the cement, Erik allows his pieces to dry and crack, enjoying the often unexpected outcomes of his creations.

Feeling Inspired? Like Erik, are you fascinated by the often unexpected results of unorthodox materials? If you think you have what it takes, enter the PPC Imagniarium today.

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