Robert Koss

Smash-up/ Mash-up/Cut-up

 Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1960’s the idea of Art was reduced to what I saw on television.  I had no idea of what was happening over the Sepulveda pass in greater Los Angeles or New York City and beyond.  My artistic outlet was making plastic models and painting them.  For the Smash-up/Mash-up/Cut-up series of work I photograph those plastic models I made as a child, on poster board in bright day-glo colors.  The colors are selected to contrast with the models and also to evoke the promise and freshness of childhood.  I then smash and rephotograph them.  Afterwards I sometimes combine the before and after photographs, other times I just use the smashed ones.  “Bre’guet 14 Mash-up” has combined images causing your eye to question what is foreground and what is background.  “Arado Flash” presents the model as a Smash-up with the bright background beginning to decay underneath the plane.  More recently I have cut away portions of the photographs to reveal what is underneath the top image.  An example of a Cut-up is “Stuka Cut-up” where the right third of the work is stable and the left two thirds are falling apart.  This creates a sense of movement in the photograph.  With this destruction of childhood achievement, I am bidding goodbye to that bright promise of childhood.  Smashing my past and letting go of my childhood.  This deconstruction of childhood illusions results in works using chance and the juxtaposition of contrasting colors that suggest depth to create new art.  Evoking something bright and shining from the past though now broken and flawed.

A past recipient of New York City’s Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship in Photography in 1994 I have a master’s degree in art from CSUN and have exhibited my artwork for many years including shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and the Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.  My photography is featured in Colors, AAP Magazine #21, September 2021, the Creative Quarterly 57 and the Creative Quarterly’s 100 Best Annual 2019.


Mig Mash-Up

Breguet 14 Mash-Up

Walrus Meld

Fokker Tri Slice

Stuka Cut-Up 2

JU 52X

Starfighter Inversion

Val Mirage 2

Arado Flash

Martlet Criss-Cross


All images © Robert Koss


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CURATOR | Joelcy Kay