Jill Baroff and Stefana McClure: What's Yours is Mine at Bartha Contemporary

‘What’s Yours is Mine’ by New York-based artists, Jill Baroff and Stefana McClure is an exquisitely balanced exhibition currently on at Bartha Contemporary, London.  The exhibition, which is minimalist on first impression but rich in sentiment, explores the notion of joint authorship, as the artists, who recently married, present old and new works that have been created both individually and collaboratively. 

In celebration of their unity, inspiration for their individually created works is drawn from the fabric of the artists’ shared life and environment. McClure’s Films on Paper depict a selection of their friends’ favourite movies while Baroff’s Hudson River drawings are inspired by the defining feature of the landscape where the couple reside.

McClure’s use of printed words takes form in thought-provoking shapes, particularly ‘Protest Stones (Brexit)’, which reflects both the fragility and potential violence of the current political situation in the U.K. Preoccupied with the often-ignored text patterns and words that underline the medium of film, her Films on Paper series draw from the closed captions of famous Hollywood films such as Pulp Fiction and The Crying Game, resulting in bold monochromatic pictures in which a surface-level simplicity defies the complexity of the layers of superimposed text within.

Baroff’s Hudson River ink drawings are intricate linear works that reflect the colours and fragments of the city the Hudson flows through and each of the three drawings on display offers the illusion of movement as one walks by, perhaps reflective of the continuity of the artists’ relationship and creative journey together.

The works that were completed by both artists form a suite of new paintings entitled ‘Square Peg Round Hole’. Starkly minimalist in appearance, the suite consist of a series of four painted white square wooden panels and a larger lone one, which have each been marked with two perfectly round holes that are too small to accommodate the square wooden pegs that the artists pounded into them through a joint act of defiance and resistance to conformity.  The humble materials used in these works and their apparent delicacy contradict the blunt force and bold drive to achieve the seemingly impossible that was used to create them.  The resulting pieces emit an effortless sense of balance created by the geometric symphony of perfectly aligned squares within perfectly aligned circles, framed within a larger square, a shape that represents solidity, strength and security.

There is an air of unity and belonging about this exhibition.  It is apparent that the pieces rose from a shared foundation of love, thoughtfulness and mutual respect. The interplay between the pieces is harmonious and balanced and there is a visual flow throughout the exhibition, allowing the space for each artwork to shine with an understated but firm confidence, hoisted by the certainty and strength that a supportive, loving relationship can bring. While each work holds its own individually, collectively it is clear that these works belong to each other, as do their artists.

‘What’s Yours is Mine’ is on at Bartha Contemporary until 18th November 2017.  More information may be found here.