Beyond the White Cube: Chris Natrop, Installation Artist

Chris’ work caught my eye some time ago so I was very much looking forward to visiting his studio. He is an LA-based installation artist represented by Taylor De Cordoba, a wonderful gallery in LA that I urge everyone to check out.  His use of solids and voids and shadow and light results in dynamic work that weaves between the delicate and ethereal and the chaotic and wild. Harry Winston recently asked him to create custom installations for their display cases in LA and Dubai, among other cities.  Who knew diamonds and installation art went so well together?! Enjoy!…
Yasmine Mohseni: What are you working on right now?

Chris Natrop: I am, for the first time in a long time, focusing on studio work. Usually my studio work is driven by forthcoming site-specific installations, so I spend my time creating work to fulfill those projects. I’m enjoying the freedom of not having any impending projects and losing myself in the process. I have several large pieces that I’m working on. One is shaping up to be one of my largest wall-hung works to date.

Photo courtesy of Chris Natrop

Photo courtesy of Chris Natrop

What are your upcoming projects/exhibitions?

In May 2012, I am going to put up a temporary installation in Terminal One of The Los Angeles International Airport. The installation will be housed within an 18 foot glass case sandwiched between a McDonalds and a Brookstone–should be interesting. In June 2012, I have a show with the University of Maine Museum of Art.  It will comprise of all new work and hopefully represent a new direction. Ideas for that show are dancing somewhere deep in my head–micro-projectors and mirrors keep emerging–we’ll see.

Describe your style

A mixture of the fantastical and mundane; urban and rural; industrial and organic; utopian and dystopian; flaccid and rigid; pretty and pink–all jumbled up into a three-dimensional immersive experience that will hopefully slow your sense of time.

Why did you become an artist?

I don’t think I ever actually “decided” to be an artist. I’ve had it in my head for as long as I can remember that I was going to be an artist. I think I was barking out “artist” as a kindergartener. However, for years I tried not to be one. The ’90s were very confusing because I thought I should attempt a career in the corporate sphere. I was mistaken and came crawling back to the studio.

What inspires you?

Seeing the natural world reclaim its space from human encroachment–weeds in a pavement crake, ants in the bathtub, coyotes in the garden, the LA River. Seeing Europa through my own telescope, although I haven’t done that for years, I still think of the pin-points of Jupiter’s moons often. Mise-en-scéne. Awesome dance music coming through my headphones. Butterflies. The meanings of words like: transubstantiate, atemporal, or evanescent. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Natrop

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I really wish I got more inspiration from other contemporary artists. It seems like I should, but I’m usually kinda underwhelmed with other art–very little really catches my eye. However, I do like other maniacal installation artists like Sara Sze, David Altmejd or Tara Donovan. Other artists that utilize cut paper that I love are Tram Van Tran and Swoon. I was enamored by the Charles Burchfield show at the Hammer. I also go back to older landscape painters like Corot, Courbet, Friedrich, Fragonard, etc–painters that understand what air looks like.

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