21th century | 20th Century

Belgium, Antwerpen, Stijn Coppejans, Brieven uit Amerika

In het jaar 1968 verruilde Jan Henderikse (Delft, 1937) Curaçle;ao voor New York, de stad die uitgroeide tot zijn vaste uitvalsbasis. Sinds het begin van de jaren zeventig getuigt Henderikes oeuvre van een intense en aanhoudende belangstelling voor de Amerikaanse 'way of life'. Of wellicht beter, van een diepgewortelde, haast fenomenologische interesse voor het exotisch-alledaagse - en dan vanuit een Europees perspectief.

Zijn verhuizing naar New York bracht vernieuwing en nieuwe energie, maar maakte Henderikse bovenal tot een kunstenaar met een twist. Europeaan Henderikse had jarenlang een tweede studio in Berlijn en beschouwt Antwerpen tot de dag van vandaag als zijn tweede thuis. Zijn atelier aldaar, in de schaduw van het Antwerpse Hessenhuis, herinnert ons bovendien aan zijn verbondenheid met de naoorlogse Europese avant-gardes. Het Hessenhuis was eind jaren vijftig immers geboortegrond van een nieuwe artistieke conceptie, met kunstenaarsgroep G58 als vaste bespeler en baanbrekende tentoonstellingen als Vision in Motion (1959) en Anti-peinture (1962) aan laatstgenoemde tentoonstelling nam Henderikse ook deel.

Op dit Europese fundament - zowel in cultureel als ideologisch opzicht - ontwikkelde Henderikse zich in de Verenigde Staten tot een kunstenaar die, als een van de eersten van zijn Europese generatiegenoten, afstand nam van het zuiver object-gerelateerde karakter van het kunstwerk. "Het einde van hang- en stakunst", zo typeerde Henderikse in 1979 zijn oriëntatie op conceptuele film- en fotografie. Zijn meerjarige monsterproject Broadway, eveneens gestart in 1979, bleek terugblikkend een waar scharnierpunt in zijn oeuvre te zijn. Tijdens talloze zondagse wandelingen documenteerde Henderikse systematisch alle kruispunten van het ruim twintig kilometer lange Broadway, resulterend in een film, in foto-assemblages en een kunstenaarsboek in leporello-vorm. Het is deze conceptuele benadering van het tastbare-alledaagse die Henderikses artistieke koers kleurt, tot op de dag van vandaag.

Evengoed echter, getuigen Henderikses 'Amerikaanse' foto-assemblages Give my Regards to Broadway en het kunstenaarsboek Broadway van een trans-Atlantische kruisbestuiving. In deze onvervalste Americana herkennen we immers ook zijn fascinatie voor serialiteit en het 'anti-compositorische' ordeningsprincipe van het raster, de kroonjuwelen van de internationale ZERO-beweging waartoe Henderikse begin jaren zestig gerekend werd. Nog pregnanter komt deze dualiteit tot uiting in zijn foto-assemblages van 'mislukte' foto's en afgekeurde portretten van cruiseschip-passagiers. In laatstgenoemde werken met rejects, met ogenschijnlijk lichtvoetige titels als All Aboard en The Handshaking Captain, worden regels van 'goede smaak' immers ter discussie gesteld en kitsch en trash tot de norm verheven.

Dat veelvoud en herhaling van Jan Henderikses (foto)assemblages bij de beschouwer een esthetische ervaring, gevoelens van genot, bezinning, contemplatie of juist ontluistering opwekken, ligt besloten in het karakter van het materiaal. Henderikses 'toon' is tongue-in-cheeck, maar evengoed compromitteren deze werken de kijker in zijn niet aflatende honger naar unieke ervaringen. Het is deze 'disneyficatie' van ons dagelijks leven die Henderikse haarscherp registreert. Nooit geheel kritiekloos, maar steevast licht-geamuseerd. Jan Henderikse is etnograaf van ons dagelijks leven, met vaste voet op twee continenten.

© 2022 Stijn Coppejans

Falconplein 17-19
2000 Antwerpen
+32 486 20 27 78
nfo@coppejansgallery.be

19 februari - 2 april 2022

Brieven uit Amerika
United Kingdom, London, Frieze London

In collaboration with BorzoGallery The Mayor Gallery is presenting a retrospective on Jan Henderikse in Frieze Masters 2021. Jan Henderikse is known as a member of Group Zero. In 1960 he was a co-founder along with Armando, Henk Peeters and Jan Schoonhoven of Nul which was Zero's Dutch counterpart. Born in 1937 in the Dutch city of Delft, he left his hometown and country in 1959 to settle in Germany, where his first assemblages originate. In 1963, with his wife Idi, they settle in Curaçao where Henderikse creates colourful assemblages with license plates, coins and marine debris. In 1967 they move to New York. Over the years he had maintained studios in Berlin, Antwerp and Curaçao, but New York remains his home and just recently he became a US citizen. Both The Mayor Gallery of London and Borzo Gallery of Amsterdam have consistently followed and represented Jan Henderikse over the past twenty years and have organised exhibitions in London and Amsterdam, regularly exhibiting his work at major art fairs such as Art Basel and TEFAF as well as lending to numerous museum shows.

Nederland, Amsterdam, BorzoGallery, After nul - the late works

Zero in Germany, Azimuth in Italy, Nouveau Réalisme in France, and Nul in the Netherlands are related genres that have had a major influence on the history of art. Held in high regard for the last few decades, what these movements have in common is their rejection of painting and, often, colour. Seriality, the repetition of identical patterns, and a clear-eyed view of reality are key to their art. "Everything was beautiful, everything was interesting" Armando later wrote. The Nul movement was founded in the Netherlands in 1960, by four artists: Armando, Jan Henderikse, Henk Peeters and Jan Schoonhoven, who were joined in the early years by herman de vries. As a movement, as a group, Nul existed for barely six years and, after 1966, each of the artists went their separate ways. Some of them, however, remained friends. Schoonhoven never left the city of his birth, Delft. His close friendship with Henderikse continued throughout his life, although Henderikse left the Netherlands for good, to split his time between Antwerp, Curaçao, and New York. Henk Peeters made his home in the Veluwe and remained friends with numerous kindred spirits outside the Netherlands. Armando went to Berlin and herman de vries also made Germany his permanent home. Jan Schoonhoven, however, remained faithful to the ideas behind Nul right up until his death, in 1994. He continued creating his famous white reliefs although, over the years, his work evolved into different styles and forms. A prolific draughtsman throughout his life, his drawings reveal a clear progression from "strict" nul to a style that is, on occasion, quite informal. After Nul disbanded, for many years Henk Peeters stopped creating his own art, yet remained heavily involved in promoting and organizing exhibitions and events. Not until the 1990s did he pick up where he left off, reworking his original Nul ideas into a series of "remakes". Armando went on to reject the ideas of the Nul movement and became an impassioned painter and sculptor, adopting an exceptionally powerful expressionism in which his often tormented experiences of war featured prominently. Jan Henderikse left the Netherlands during the Nul years, splitting his time between Antwerp, Curaçao and New York and working with great energy on an oeuvre that is as extensive as it is exuberant. Nonetheless, he remained true to the principles of Nul inasmuch as, rather than painting, he made art from ready-made objects, embracing a style and artistic concept akin to French Nouveau Réalisme and American Pop Art. During the 1970s, herman de vries abandoned his white reliefs and sculptures and, from his new base on the edge of the Steigerwald in Northern Bavaria, combined his art with his original education in biology. Nature, as studied, ordered, collected, and conserved by him, became the recurring theme of his artistic output, although to this day his stated aim is to minimize his role as an artist as much as possible in this regard. In BorzoGallery on Keizersgracht, we have curated an exhibition of these five artists which illustrates the diversity of each artist's development AFTER NUL.

After nul - the late works
  • After nul - the late works
  • After nul - the late works
  • After nul - the late works
  • After nul - the late works
  • After nul - the late works
  • After nul - the late works

Upcoming events

presents Jan Henderikse at June 16 – 19, 2022

Jan Henderikse / 119 Hall Street, Brooklyn NY 11205, USA / Hessenplein 2, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium