Ronny Van De Velde
Panamarenko, one of Belgium’s foremost conceptual artists, is a man with a life-long obsession with space exploration, movement, flight, energy and the force of gravity. Early in his career he adopted a pseudonym to hide from the public gaze. Although the genesis of Panamarenko's name in unknown, it's been suggested it's a reference to the now defunct Pan Am Airways, and that the Russian-sounding suffix is a whimsical take on the cold war that was at its height when he emerged onto the Antwerp art scene in the 1960s. Panamarenko is the Walter Mity of the art world, a utopian dreamer, an 'artist-technologist' who has spent thirty years constructing contraptions from an assortment of bicycle peddles, sprockets, rubber bands, wheels, balsa wood, etc. His work, fusing artistic and technological experiment, takes many forms, such as airplanes, flying carpets, cars, flying saucers, submarines and birds. Panamarenko creates spectacular structures of strange beauty, both playful and inspiring, yet none of his work is constructed to leave the ground.