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Gerald Peters Contemporary is pleased to present Little People / Big Picture, an exhibition of works from the last decade by American realist painter Tom Birkner.
New Jersey-born Birkner has focused on capturing the world around him––the working-class suburbs and sprawl of post-industrial America. While formally trained, Birkner’s practice began early, as he closely observed football games, malls excursions, amusement parks visits, and the other diversions of everyday life in the suburbs. He says, “I like painting things that appear visually as people see the world. I find subjects for painting in vignettes and scenarios that occur by accident.”
Birkner is less concerned with social and cultural interpretation than with representing the vitality of memory, nostalgia, and perception. As David Cohen states, “Mr. Birkner’s sharply observed, chromatically inventive, compositionally ambitious social scenes have a slow-burning sexuality that rhymes with the bluesy resignation of the depressed town, threatening freeway encounters and proletarian amusements he depicts.”
The works of Little People / Big Picture are akin to portraits, eliminating the contextualizing environments that have defined Birkner’s work to date. Football fans, concert-goers, disco dancers, and other everyday figures are rendered on small-scale, individual canvases, unified only by complimenting color values. The resulting iconography elevates individuals while subtly emphasizing the quotidian commonalities that unite them––and the society they make up together.
Birkner received his B.A. from Rutgers University and his M.F.A. from Pennsylvania State University. He is a two-time recipient of the New Jersey State Council on The Arts Fellowship, and his work was recently exhibited at the El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas and Centro Cultural de las Fronteras, Juárez, Mexico. He has been featured in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally and has earned reviews in the New York Times and ARTnews.