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Elisheva Biernoff: Paintings

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present its first solo exhibition of the work of Elisheva Biernoff from May 11 – July 8, 2017. The exhibition brings together approximately fourteen of the artist’s small-format, painstakingly meticulous paintings—nearly the total of three year’s effort—and is accompanied by a 66-page publication. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, May 11, 5:30-7:30pm, and an artist’s talk and book signing will be held on Saturday, June 3 at 2pm.

Elisheva Biernoff’s hypnotically detailed works are based on found, anonymous photographs which are painted to exact scale as faithfully as possible. The paintings are made on thin sheets of sanded plywood measuring approximately 3-1/2 inches in height or width. In the process of making each work—which requires two to three months to complete—Biernoff pays far more attention to the images than the photographers who originally made them (before the objects were discarded or given away).

The subjects of Biernoff’s paintings are typically strangers and landscapes that evince an atmosphere of uncertainty and melancholy. The images frequently depict figures in enigmatic settings, and the relations among the people are likewise ambiguous. An example is Exposure (2017), a faded portrait of an American soldier posing in a jungle; inscribed on the verso are the words “Me. Wish I was Home.”

Biernoff’s works are grounded in the conviction that every detail of the photographs carries significance. Her paintings are displayed on small, handmade stands that allow the viewer to glimpse the reverse sides, which are painted with equal detail and finesse. The backs of the photographs often carry industrial markings (for example, “THIS PAPER MANUFACTURED BY KODAK”) or personal inscriptions such as “Gary + Paul 1951,” all rendered by the artist in paint.

On occasion of the exhibition Fraenkel Gallery has published Elisheva Biernoff, the first monograph devoted to the artist’s work. The book has 45 illustrations reproducing fourteen of the artist’s paintings—front and back—at actual scale and in extraordinary detail. More information about the catalogue is available here.

Elisheva Biernoff (b. 1980, Albuquerque, New Mexico) lives in San Francisco and studied painting at Yale University, Slade School of Fine Art in London, and California College of the Arts. Among the museums that have acquired her work are The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.