William E. Jones Exposes Truths From His Second Saturn Return

Lou Reed, 2023. Photo: Elon Schoenholz. © William E. Jones. Courtesy of the Artist and David Kordansky Gallery.

The Saturn return comes around twice in our life, acting as a time of personal growth to sort through the people, places, and things that matter most to us. In his new exhibition, Saturn Comes Again, William E. Jones reflects on his own return, debuting 14 new paintings and a black and white portrait video at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles. 

Producing the pieces over the last two years, the Los Angeles based artist draws inspiration from his personal archives of photographs and videos, and various pop culture references. He was also inspired by a character in his novel, I Should Have Known Better, a sequel to his book I’m Open to Anything. The novel explores escapism, testing sexual limits, and the nonconformist energy that guided Los Angeles at the end of the twentieth century. 

All the paintings in the exhibit have a slightly blurred effect, creating an optical illusion upon view. The subject’s silhouette and action is easily understood, yet their face and emotion is never fully revealed. The work often echoes Jones’s own experiences in the Los Angeles art world and constantly changing political environment. Some images are sexually explicit, others depict portraits of pop cultural figures like Lou Reed, Gerhard Richter, and Joan Crawford, with many inspired by dirty magazines from the 1970s.

Gerhard Richter Asphyxiating Himself, 2024. Photo: Elon Schoenholz. © William E. Jones. Courtesy of the Artist and David Kordansky Gallery.

Saturn Comes Again is based on the astrological idea of the Saturn Return, which typically refers to a coming of age or dramatic shift in a person’s life. The well known first return takes place in a person’s late 20’s, but the often unspoken second return, happens in the years leading up to your 60s. Returns act as periods of growth and personal rebirth in people’s lives, symbolizing a next chapter. After his second return, Jones has explored new mediums of work as he grows his artistic palette, and reconsiders how his work – and his life – intersect with his audience. 

‘Saturn Comes Again’ is on view now through August 24 at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles.