Elisheva Biernoff: Starting from Wrong

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present its second exhibition of new work by Elisheva Biernoff. Titled Starting from Wrong, the exhibition features twelve meticulously detailed paintings measuring no larger than 4 x 5 inches each. All completed since 2017, Biernoff’s recent paintings are carefully observed, two-sided works based on found and anonymous photographs. The exhibition will be on view from April 1 to May 28, 2021, and will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Fraenkel Gallery.

Each of Biernoff’s paintings requires three to four months to complete, belying the instantaneous nature of the source material. Aptly beginning with a work titled Wrong 1966, Biernoff’s new paintings depict photographs that may be considered to have failed in a variety of ways. These “failures” include various forms of fading, sun flares, and color shifts, with elements that appear to be damaged or missing. In Him, 2018, a man in a suit is obscured by sunlight coming from behind, rendering him anonymous, and breaking photography’s classic taboo against placing a subject in front of bright light. A mysterious Polaroid verges on jarring abstraction in Instant, 2021, as dark grey patches of “damaged” emulsion appear to rend a light-dappled oceanscape.

Biernoff’s double-sided paintings are displayed on stands that allow them to be viewed from multiple perspectives. Ripple, 2020, features figures on a sandy expanse with scribbled handwriting on the verso that references the odd look of the print: “Can’t figure out why the waves unless it’s the heat? Do you have any idea?” With attention to even the most seemingly insignificant detail, Biernoff’s work conveys a sense of a photograph’s history before it arrived in her possession.

To accompany the painted works, Biernoff has created a set of 50 “mistake” postcards based on her own photographs, some with photographic errors, others altered to appear misprinted. Gallery visitors will be invited to select a card to take home.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring all fifteen paintings the artist has completed since 2017, when her first monograph was published. Each work is reproduced to exact scale and, consistent with the original publication, all paintings are reproduced recto and verso.

Elisheva Biernoff (b. 1980) received an MFA from California College of the Arts and a BA from Yale University. She also studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and was a recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited at institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, among others.