His art is rooted in everyday utensils, which he tracks down and buys in huge quantities (“too much is not enough”) to put on show: beer crates, cents, old advertising posters from supermarkets or plastic statuettes of Jesus. He also makes things. For instance he took photographs of all the intersections on Broadway, the longest street in New York, and he had a bronze cast made of a shell hole from World War II in a Berlin bridge. It is art if he thinks so and puts his name on it (like ready-made, see Marcel Duchamp). A German newspaper called him ‘der Grossvater des Trash’, because of a major exhibition in Potsdam (Berlin).
In Germany (Kiel, Stuttgart, Cologne and Berlin) he is honoured as a great artist. There he sells widely to museums and private collectors. Jan Henderikse himself doesn’t have much to say on the subject. Maybe because he is not satisfied with the degree of recognition. Maybe it’s modesty. Or because he rejects the idea of the artist as a super hero.
All is Light starts when Jan Henderikse is preparing for a major work with almost 2,000 nightlights (illuminated plastic statuettes) in the form of Jesus Christ in the partly destroyed St. Georgen Kirche in the German Hanseatic city of Wismar. He leaves for Berlin. He is penniless and thinking about the money he doesn’t have. In his studio in Berlin, he is going to prepare new work and he visits galleries begging for a show. All is Light shows where Jan Henderikse gets his inspiration. Like many contemporary artists he poses the question of whether it is art or deceit. Like a real entertainer, Jan Henderikse is openly willing to show us.
Jan Henderikse does not mince words. That makes him a fascinating character for a film. He is an excellent guide; he instantly knows all the best places in an unknown city. In New York he had countless jobs – he was a doorman and house painter. Even though he took these jobs from necessity, it fitted in with his urge for change, energy and his moods: in the case of Jan Henderikse one never quite knows where one is.