DFN Gallery is proud to present Jersey Girls, new paintings by Tom Birkner. Birkner’s latest work celebrates the women of his home state and makes a convincing case for taking a closer look at the social landscapes that surround us.
Well known for his gritty scenes of down-trodden New Jersey, Birkner’s newest paintings offer a more specific focus. Hidden in plain sight, his Jersey Girls emerge from the banal realities of traffic, sprawl, strip malls and money to offer what Birkner calls a new ideal. Street-smart and loyal, fierce, vulnerable and sexy, these young women are figures by which the ordinary becomes sublime.
In Cheer Leading, Rutgers cheerleaders rally fans in support of the resurgent Scarlet Knights. Lofted into the air, back arched and fist clenched, a blonde cheerleader becomes a monument to victory. Andrea, a portrait of a young brunette lounging on the hood of a car, epitomizes the Jersey Girl archetype – blue jeans and attitude. Andrea’s iconic status is underscored by a circled star on the brick wall behind her that becomes a halo.
Critic David Cohen of The New York Sun writes: “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 towns, threatening freeway encounters and proletarian amusements he depicts.”