Tema Celeste
No. 110 Jul-Aug 2005
"Chris Natrop @ Overtones"
Pages 74-77

"Chris Natrop @ Overtones"

Remember how much fun it was making cutout snowflakes at the kitchen table? At the time, could our young minds grasp their organic, flawed symmetry, or the notion that self-expression exists in plain white paper with no recourse to crayons or stickers or stories or explanations? Now imagine that those snowflakes have been transformed into single-sheet creations several feet square, and that they include concepts like memory, sentiment, and investigations of multidimensional perception.

Chris Natrop's latest show, entitled 11-1/2, is a site-specific installation of lyrical panoramic landscapes, articulated like those snowflakes. Despite the large scale and density of detail, Natrop achieves crispness and coherence in his images of reedy lakes and overgrown forests without the benefit of a pattern on the paper to guide him. His knife-work is as freehand and intuitive as a plein air sketch. Resplendent with finely detailed passages and dynamic interplay between positive and negative space these sheets are suspended in front of warmly painted walls and lit from various angles to reveal a series of shifting perspectives in their projected shadows. The work is designed to embrace the capriciousness of ambient light, anticipation the variations and the ways in which moving light can transform a stationary object, or, as in this case, the view of a lake. Natrop admits to having no conflicts between the craft idiom of the medium he chose, his own deep education in painting, and his current interest in theories on the dimensional structure of the universe; because while the contours of a remembered landscape yield less accuracy in geography, they achieve more precision in their meaning like the ephemeral but unmistakable language of poetry. Tape, glue, and rare gestures of color all conspire to reveal his artifice, which in turn makes his effort all the more poignant. Realism is not the goal, nor is precious craftsmanship per so. Neither is perfection. After all, nature is not perfect, but, like Natrop's allegories of its character, it owns its flaws.

*review also published in Italian, same issue.