In the Fold


Nancy Toomey Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Chris Natrop titled In the Fold, on view from September 9 to October 30, 2021. The gallery is located inside San Francisco’s Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota Street. Gallery hours, for now, are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 12pm to 4pm, and by appointment–please contact or 415-307-9038.

The public is invited to meet artist Chris Natrop at the gallery this Saturday, September 11, from 5pm to 7pm.Chris Natrop, Sunset Crystal Fold 3, 2021

Chris Natrop’s studio practice is centered on the act of cutting paper. Executed free form and exclusively with a knife, it has evolved into a stream of consciousness drawing technique, a meditation of repetition and reduction. Immediate cutting decisions and the intentional lack of pre-planning allows for the discovery of ambiguous silhouetted imagery that surface as interconnected landscapes. Individual cut paper objects stand alone or are fabricated into other two-dimensional formats. All elements come together in various combinations, creating larger multifaceted installations: worlds in which light, shadow, and form coalesce into a stable equilibrium.

The exhibition In the Fold contains three distinct but interlinking parts: Sunset Crystal Fold, Reflector Specter, and Matrix Nouveau.

Sunset Crystal Fold is a series of eight framed works consisting of cut paper and acrylic paint. These objects depict networks of organic and geometric formations within deep atmospheric color. Meticulous cutting permeates the acrylic and paper substrate creating a meshwork between substance and nothingness. The richly painted surface of hard-edged sprayed on color gives way to a reticulation of cutout voids. This interplay between delineated form and emptiness becomes the essence of the work with its overall composition realized by the select removal of the picture plane. The dismantlement of two-dimensions produces a depth within the flat object allowing light to pass. This produces a spectrum of background shapes with colorized shadows, a product of light bouncing off its hidden neon colored backside. Conducting in-studio crystal making experiments, Natrop played with the oxidized natural formations that took shape as the materials cooled. This playful jumping-off point generated and integrated the phantasms of nature into his art making process.

The series Reflector Specter is part of Natrop’s ongoing practice of incorporating aspects of previous cut paper ephemera into new types of sculptural projects. The outlines of countless knife cuts from previous work are captured from photos and digitally manipulated then fabricated into fresh generations of new works. Reflector Specteris a grouping of wall-hung sculptures with direct linkage back to original cut paper drawings created in San Francisco almost twenty years ago. Cut from thin sheets of mirrored stainless steel, the formation of these works belies their simpler paper origins. The original forms have been thoroughly tweaked and distorted to embody an enhanced sensibility, an apparition of bygone memories. Like hovering cloud formations, these flat sculptures cling to the wall in pseudo-bas-relief; their internal complexities a chiaroscuro of reflection and prismatic shadowing. These works manifest a shared moment in time, but always reflect the present instant.

Matrix Nouveau consists of acrylic and glitter on hand cut paper. Produced in 2018, these pieces incorporate a more free-flowing process. None of the paint or cutting was overly manipulated, allowing for more natural and spontaneous formations to occur. As juxtaposed with Sunset Crystal Fold, its composition is unstructured and amorphous where the other is rigid and crystalline.

Born in 1967 in Milwaukee, Chris Natrop grew up in Hartland, Wisconsin and relocated to California after receiving his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1992. Cutting is the hallmark of Natrop’s practice. Known for his immersive room-sized installations and large-scale projects, his unique cutting method evolved some twenty years ago out of the process of charcoal drawing. His idiosyncratic method, using an industrial utility knife on vertically mounted swaths of paper, is foundational to his unique ability, and a cornerstone to the broader cut paper movement in the art world today. Natrop has roots in San Francisco from the 90’s to early 2000’s where he lived and worked. His entire process and technique blossomed in his Mission studio which was featured in the local PBS program “Spark” in 2004. In the proceeding years, before relocating to Los Angeles, Natrop was a fixture at the Headlands Center for the Arts, having taken over the Bowling Alley Building as an Affiliate Artist where he mounted his first site-specific cut paper installations. He has shown his work throughout the US and Europe and has recently completed a series of commissioned public sculptures in New York, Dubai, China, Houston, and Los Angeles. In 2016 he completed site specific works for Facebook’s Playa Vista and Menlo Park campuses. In 2020 Natrop completed a major public sculpture commissioned by the County of Los Angeles. Natrop is a recipient of several awards, including the Pulse Prize at Pulse New York, and is included in numerous public and private collections.

In the Fold is Chris Natrop’s second solo exhibition at Nancy Toomey Fine Art.

Video: Anthony Bello (director)
Audio: Chris Natrop (voice)
Video excerpts of artist Chris Natrop by David Benhaim (at Facebook, Los Angeles, 2016) and Eric Minh Swenson (at Nancy Toomey Fine Art, San Francisco, 2016)