William E. Jones

Oil on canvas
35.6 x 27.9 x 1.6 cm, 14 x 11 x 5/8 in

“A few years ago, a friend suggested I make artworks relating to the world of my novels I’m Open to Anything (2019), I Should Have Known Better (2021), and I Didn’t See It Coming (forthcoming in 2023). This is also the world that I carry around inside my head. The iconography of my recent paintings generally falls into a few categories: friends who very kindly send me photos of themselves or allow me to photograph them, performers in amateur (and occasionally professional) porn, historical figures who are not quite celebrities but who are important to me, sports figures in embarrassing moments.

The three paintings presented at Frieze New York are all based upon porn, but not the explicit parts. I found the images on Twitter. The compositions and color schemes are mine. An important precedent for me is Straight to Hell, the magazine edited by Boyd McDonald (1925-1993), about whom I wrote a biography, True Homosexual Experiences (2017). When choosing texts for his publication, McDonald sought the truth; anything too perfect and seamless got rejected as pure fiction or fantasy. He always favored stories with telling, uncomfortable details. When looking for source material, I have little interest in photography that looks professional or artistic. I gravitate toward candid shots and awkward moments. In this way, the paintings are a visualization or an expansion of the aesthetic of Straight to Hell.” — William E. Jones.