Today’s POP is Lily in Hoxton with Erik Sommer: her Artist of the Week.
Oils, acrylics, and concrete. I love discovering new artists. I obsess easily…
More than discovering an artist, I love the opportunity to pick their brain.
So I'd like to introduce Erik Sommer, and a short conversation I had with the New York based painter on art: both his and history.
Your last exhibition at Rook & Raven Gallery felt very peaceful.
Yes, that was the idea. Very intimate, quiet, reflective; a place to notice parts of the pieces you wouldn't otherwise.
Bit like the Rothko room at the Tate…
I was just there! Oh thank you, when I first got into painting the old New York art, particularly Rothko, was very important to me.
Which current NY art do you think is important?
Erik Benson, who has a roundabout way of painting that I like. Dustin Yellen is great. And Edie Martinez. I like the whole rough, unfinished aesthetic.
You don’t say?
I've always been interested in deterioration, texture and grit and like to encourage cracking and breaking. I'm a painter but I break every rule I can think of. There's not even that much actual paint in my paintings – it's more home improvement materials. I use an old butter knife so I build up layer upon layer, and then, when it starts to crack and peel I use a scraper to chisel and encourage the compositional breakdown. It's a reaction to the reactions, as such.
Like tearing down a broken building.
Outside my studio there are these old chimneys so weathered and falling apart. I look at them a lot – they inspire me. Many of my pieces look like they could have been sitting outside for years. It's a manipulation of time.
How long does each work actually take to make?
I work on several at a time… Maybe 3-5 months to complete 5/6 pieces.
Since you’re working with the whole unfinished finished aesthetic… how do you know when it’s done?
I know when it's not done, more than when I know it's done. It’s the absence of the feeling that its not finished, then its finished.
It reminds me of some of the capitalist realist work, it's a bit collage.
Yes I suppose it's just all about mixing materials in ways you're not supposed to. I don't like when you can tell that it's paint.
You can't. Who buys your non-paint-paintings?
I guess the younger, hipper, cooler crowd. I'm actually doing better in London.
They probably appeal to London’s somewhat bleak mentality.
They're very New Yorky to me, but I guess it's applicable to any urban area.
What next for you?
I have a show at the Rooster gallery in April in NY and then hopefully come back to London, I love really love it.
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