Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: Workshop. The exhibition marks the first solo survey show for the art collective since Rollins’ passing in December 2017, presented with the late artist’s estate. Curated by Ian Berry, who organized the group’s first major traveling retrospective and monograph, Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History, in 2009 at Skidmore College’s Tang Teaching Museum, Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: Workshop will feature many of the collective’s most significant series that deal with issues of race, identity, history, and politics, spanning from 1987 to 2016. Continuing the legacy of the group, the exhibition also marks the launch of Studio K.O.S., which will host Saturday workshops at the gallery throughout the exhibition (participants will be coordinated with local schools). As the collective’s second iteration, Studio K.O.S. will continue arts education and youth mentorship spearheaded by several of the foundational members, including Angel Abreu, Jorge Abreu, Robert Branch, and Rick Savinon. The gallery will host an opening reception with many of the group members in attendance on Thursday, April 18, at 536 West 22nd Street, from 6 to 8 PM, followed by a public talk on Friday, May 3, from 6 to 8 PM, with Ian Berry and members of K.O.S.
Rollins began his career teaching art for special education students in a South Bronx public middle school. In 1984, he launched the Art Knowledge Workshop, which acted as an after-school program for his most dedicated students who named themselves Kids of Survival (K.O.S.). At the forefront of social practice and intersectional dialogue, together Rollins and K.O.S. developed a unique method of art making that involved painting and drawing on the pages of books or sheet music adhered in a grid to the surface of a canvas. Their influential work builds on diverse source materials, including literary classics by William Shakespeare and Mark Twain, foundational writings by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, as well as musical compositions by Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss, and X-Men comics.
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: Workshop will include works from the series Amerika (1984-2012); Red Badge (1985-1995); By Any Means Necessary (1985-2008); The Whiteness of the Whale (1986-2016); The Temptation of St. Anthony (1987-1994); Pinocchio (1991); X-Men (1991-1997), I See the Promised Land (1999-2012), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2005-2017); Blossom and The Sick Rose (2009); On the Origin of Species (2009-2016); and Invisible Man (2002-2017). Each of these series can be viewed through the broad themes of violence and repair that mark both personal and collective histories. This exhibition will highlight the breadth and lasting impact of the oeuvre of Tim Rollins and K.O.S., which encompasses minimal and conceptual modes of representation through language, literature, and history. For Rollins and the K.O.S. members who will now continue his legacy, their practice is concerned with opening a space for the voices of those who have been overlooked or silenced. In a voice that resonates profoundly today, Rollins is quoted saying:
To dare to make history when you are young, when you are a minority, when you are working, or nonworking class, when you are voiceless in society, takes courage. Where we came from, just surviving is ‘making history.’ So many others, in the same situations, have not survived, physically, psychologically, spiritually, or socially. We were making our own history. We weren’t going to accept history as something given to us.
This body of work together with the inauguration of Studio K.O.S. is presented during a time when both the art world and larger society grapple with the unresolved history of slavery and colonialism, its impact on the political and social structures we live with today, and the role of art to give a platform to those marginalized by these systems. Ultimately, the exhibition is not a rebuke or endorsement of any one ideology, but a mirror of society and human folly, while fulfilling Tim Rollins and K.O.S.’s mandate for the true restorative potential of art, achieved by centering diverse points of view on the culture that we inherited, share, and create every day.