30 x 19 feet | tape on cut paper with stainless steel nails | Bank Gallery | Los Angeles
interview - Chris Natrop by Caryn Coleman
Los Angeles based artist Chris Natrop, brings a unique approach to the traditional art practice of paper cutting. Using a standard utility knife and rolls of Lenox 100 drawing paper, Natrop cuts large suspended works and site-specific installations without a predetermined drawing or pattern. The results are arial like drawings with a sculptural and monumental presence, often referencing an amalgam of natural and urban environments.
For the exhibition, “Into the Silver See-Through”, Natrop creates an installation comprised of a 30 ft. long wall relief and a room-sized installation of several suspended works. This new body of work is a broad meditation on Natrop’s response to the Los Angeles landscape. As a recent resident from northern California, Natrop critiques the hidden and visual structures of this urban space and it’s coexistence with nature. The work manifests as other worldly landscapes or fictionalized environments, paralleling the relationships between the organic and synthetic that are so ubiquitous today.
Having recently moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I found my new environment to be a bit daunting at first, curiously disparate and seemingly disconnected. I wasn’t used to driving everywhere, so I felt kind of disoriented. This overall perception found its way into the work. Different forms and structures began to emerge. I felt like I was finding the hidden essence to LA, a hidden substructure of peculiar relationships. I love how plant-life infiltrates and interacts with the city. How vines crawl up and descend from highways and overpasses. How towering weeds and grasses push themselves from the concrete, overtaking the hardened terrain. How LA’s vast highway system pumps vehicles through huge stretches of a broadly anonymous city. Into the Silver See-Through is a place where the usual environment is stripped away from its substructure, allowing roads, vines, plants, streaking headlights, and glinting chrome to subtly coalesce into its own world.
Typically, the scale of my work reflects the size of a specific exhibition site. To me, Bank’s new space is very temple-like: super high ceilings, all white with old, classical flourishes poking out in places. The space has a very strong presence when empty. So for my installation I wanted the work to emerge from the space rather than fill it. The main gallery has a 30-foot wall that’s bisected by a recessed Corinthian column. So I couldn’t resist creating a site-specific wall relief that really responded to the character of the gallery. This wall relief leads into the project space where I created a sizable environment of suspended pieces. The whole thing took over 3 months of full-time work to complete.
This work is realized through the quiet mysteries that shape our surroundings. We orient ourselves to a framework of non-direct, unseen, or unnoticed aspects articulating our connection to the world. While this is as much a fleeting idea a physical reality: the voids and pressures that define separation; the transmissions and frequencies that create interconnections; and the vagaries of sub consciousness that motivate our relationships. I tend to tease out unseen forces that quietly permeate every day life. Using the language of “landscape”, I reshape these hidden factors into explicit formations. These formations, or installations, crystallize various elements of perception into fully formed environments. These new worlds are, in a sense, products of fleeting awareness realized through an exacting, and spontaneous, process. My work stands as a cathartic response to ulterior forces shaping our lives. I concern myself with this ulterior place. A specific reality is created where the substructure of the world becomes the primary structure. A place where un-seeable things become seen, physical structures are permeable. Previously indiscernible frequencies and transmissions become opaque, where voids and pressures yield to solid structure, where our internalized sub-consciousness is turned inside out.