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INTERVIEW

CHRIS NATROP

PULSE PRIZE WINNER 2007 | NEW YORK

Chelsea Meadow Swirl,  2019, laminated acrylic composite, 720 x 120 x 1 in. Permanent Site-Specific Commission at Hogan Lovells 390 Madison Ave, NY. Photo credit:  Patrick Grandaw

Chelsea Meadow Swirl, 2019, laminated acrylic composite, 720 x 120 x 1 in. Permanent Site-Specific Commission at Hogan Lovells 390 Madison Ave, NY. Photo credit: Patrick Grandaw

12 years later, how would you describe the body of work that won you the PULSE Prize in 2007?

Chris Natrop installation with Bank | PULSE Art Fair 2007

Chris Natrop installation with Bank | PULSE Art Fair 2007

2007 was a very special time in my life. I had moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco a year earlier, and I was embarking on a new body of work based on my new environs. One thing that caught my eye regarding my new So Cal landscape was the crazy mashup between urban sprawl and incessant nature. My installation for Bank at PULSE used, in part, large paper cutouts depicting the evasive species, Black Mustard that blankets large swaths of L.A. landscape in bright yellow. Like the plant, the work was very airy, whimsical, and overwhelming. I loved transforming the booth into that world.

Which parts of that work were the hardest for you to create? Why?

This work was, by far, one of my most delicate and tricky cut paper installations. I think the largest element was close to 10 feet high. I learned it is difficult to make cut paper pieces at that scale without extra support. There were unavoidable rips and tears that were fixed with white artist’s tape. I’m very pragmatic about making art—I like to do what works. That artist tape was great fix, and I began using it as an intentional aesthetic element in future pieces. 

How did it feel to win the Prize? Which body of work did the cash grant help you create?

Gleaming Without Us,  2008, machined cast acrylic sheet, ultra chrome print, various sizes

Gleaming Without Us, 2008, machined cast acrylic sheet, ultra chrome print, various sizes

I was completely surprised to receive the PULSE Prize. I used those funds as seed money to create a new body of work called Gleaming Without Us, which was deep dive into non-paper related art-fabrication processes. So, receiving the PULSE Prize really helped kickstart an important facet to my practice. In fact, I continue to use those same materials and fabrication techniques for large scale sculpture like the one I recently completed for Hogan Lovells in New York.

Chelsea Meadow Swirl,  2019, laminated acrylic composite, 720 x 120 x 1 in. Permanent Site-Specific Commission at Hogan Lovells 390 Madison Ave, NY. Photo credit:  Patrick Grandaw

Chelsea Meadow Swirl, 2019, laminated acrylic composite, 720 x 120 x 1 in. Permanent Site-Specific Commission at Hogan Lovells 390 Madison Ave, NY. Photo credit: Patrick Grandaw

What areas of the contemporary art scene are you most inspired by currently?

I love the art world, traveling to galleries and hitting art fairs, but my practice has become so idiosyncratic that I don’t directly glean much inspiration from it. I love the people and the energy and oddball discoveries that may penetrate my veneer, but since I do a lot of commissioned work is what really excites me—collaborating directly with people, making site-specific work that integrates with architecture.

How has access to the internet and the rise of various social media channels affected that way that your art is viewed and how you view art?

Internet and social media have been an incredible shift—access to multiple channels of information seems to, at first, democratize the art word, allowing for direct access to artists and imagery, etc. Google, Instagram, and Facebook allow folks to connect to me and see what I do. But I do admit, social media drives me a bit nuts, so I try to keep my feeds very professional, and I don’t lust over likes and followers. I feel the best policy is person to person interactions, although the Instagram algorithms may disagree.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Chris Natrop installation with Bank | PULSE Art Fair 2007

Chris Natrop installation with Bank | PULSE Art Fair 2007

The best piece of advice keeps coming back to me: “Have no fear.” Like I said, I am naturally pragmatic, and not an inherent risk-taker. Although some may see my artwork as pushing the limits of material, my instinct is to back away from daunting projects and stick to what I know. In 2007, Lorraine Molina (former director/owner of Bank) pushed me into new territory, asking me to create work I thought too precarious and vulnerable for an art fair booth. I guess I was wrong!

What’s coming up next for you?

I’m currently working on a large permanent installation for Zev Yarolasvsy Family Support Center for the City of Los Angeles. It will incorporate hundreds of hanging elements in mirrored stainless steel. I’m also working with Nancy Toomey and Svea Lin Soll to create a permanent paper-based work for a new hotel opening in San Louis Obispo in August. Both projects are very exciting, and I hope to take on much more in the near future. My wife, Mari, and I are renovating a large house in Eagle Rock, CA that will incorporate my studio, so I will soon be living where I work. That will be an incredible shift! 

Half Light Candy Bowl Mashup , 2018, watercolor, glitter, aluminum powder on paper, string, size variable

Half Light Candy Bowl Mashup, 2018, watercolor, glitter, aluminum powder on paper, string, size variable


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