TOM SACHS: Rocket Factory Paintings

June 24 - August 20, 2022

Thaddaeus Ropac Seoul presents Tom Sachs: Rocket Factory Paintings, the first exhibition dedicated entirely to the American artist’s celebrated breakthrough Rocket Factory NFT collection. Fifteen paintings depicting iconically branded Rockets and Rocket Components will be on show. The exhibition, which runs concurrently with the artist’s solo shows at Art Sonje Center and HYBE Insight, completes the first comprehensive survey of Sachs’ work in Seoul.

Drawing inspiration from the Conceptual Art movement between 1968-1972, the Rocket Factory NFT collection presents a framework: a series of conditions, a set of rules - but the results are left for the community to decide. From the 150,000+ possible ways to combine the 30 iconically branded Component NFTs - the community gets to choose which 1,000 Rocket NFTs the world deserves.

The thirty brands,each pop culture icons: Chanel, Budweiser, Coke, Apple Computers, etc). Here, Sachs builds a Rosetta stone between pop art and conceptual art. Together, these brands form a self-portrait of the artist, within which viewers might recognise themselves. ‘Brands form our sense of tribal belonging,’ says Sachs about his choices. ‘In my childhood, at the kitchen table we would discuss dad’s new car or mom’s new dress. Brands are the foundation of the dominant religion of our era – consumerism.’

While the current NFT space is largely concerned with creating digital versions of physical artworks, Sachs turns this idea on its head, using the digital Rocket NFTs created by the community as the blueprints for creating physical artworks. The digital rockets are minted and born from the community, but each digital Rocket Sachs paints is entirely his choice.

Each painting on view is derived from the digital art that comprises Rocket Factory. Originating as a series of digital iPad drawings, the multi-layered NFT collection has become among the artist’s most ambitious projects to date. The quintessential crossover, the Rocket Factory spans the worlds of digital web3.0 and the physical plywood-space functioning as a trans-dimensional manufacturing plant where every Rocket NFT is recreated as a Physical Rocket Sculpture.

Tom Sachs: Rocket Factory Paintings continues the artist’s three decades long career, producing handmade recreations of cultural icons by reimagining the artist's own work, and transforming pixels into paintings. These paintings represent the golden intersection of three brands and a provocative title. Guided by the materiality of paint, thick impasto brushstrokes crash like waves against hard-edge clean borders – these are paintings that all follow the same structure, yet are each different. Sachs employs the techniques of traditional oil painting, championed by Abstract Expressionism, refined by the modern advances of synthetic polymer. While challenging our understanding of art, Sachs continuously prioritizes the viscerally handmade object by pulling the metaverse back into the meatspace.