As we enter early February, for many that will mean taking their first tentative tiple after the drought of dry January. For others, nascent new year’s resolutions of 2022 have gone by the wayside after a well-meaning start. For some, getting in shape after frequent pandemic periods of particularly sedentary self-isolation may have been that go-to ambition, but by now freshly minted gym passes have been collecting dust since mid-January, and any recently implemented dietary constrictions have since capitulated or compromised. In Tom Worfold‘s latest suite of paintings, currently on display at Ginny on Frederick, this pursuit of the perfect physique is subtly, satirically undermined. Avoiding the body as a temple platitude, here bodies are portrayed as a sum of their self-improvement parts.
Across a quartet of toned torso’s rendered in layered acrylic and lurid colours, we find battery-pack six-packs, fanny-pack six-packs and post-it note pecs. Stacks of cellular double-A batteries power a glowing lightbulb head, permanently primed to enlighten upon moments of inspiration, while multi-coloured sticky notes adhere to a cropped abdomen, no doubt inked with taunting to-do lists and sensible shopping lists, the body as bulletin board. Elsewhere a knotted neckerchief takes the place of twisted intestines, titled Anthocyanin Scarf in reference to the purple pigment praised for its health advantages and antioxidant effects. Such favourable fruits - blueberries and raspberries - and similar superfood sensations such as pistachios and other assorted nuts appear throughout as pattern prints, adorning the foulard and fanny packs. Similarly, the exhibition’s title, 'Good Fats’, points to contemporary society’s seeming obsession with the reliably reassuring yet culturally contradictory phrase.
In each painting, however, evidence exists of the pain caused by a perpetual quest for perfection and the anxiety induced by unending attempts at enhancement. Plasters form provisional pecs as push-pins pierce the skin behind the frail post-it note protection. Barbed fruit-bearing briers inevitable scratch or score as an unzipped bum bag bralette appears to yawn or sigh, perhaps bemoaning such sustained significance given to superficial self-care.