Panamarenko (1940-01-01)
Antwerp, Belgium
works and lives in Belgium

Panamarenko (original name is Henri Vanherreweghe) lives and works in Belgium.
He was born in Antwerp in 1940, where his father was an electrician and his mother worked in several different factories until the late 1960s, when she took over a shoe shop that she ran for more than 15 years.

From 1955 to 1960 Panamarenco studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, and from 1962 to 1964 he attended some classes at the National Superior Institute in Antwerp. During that time he also studied the physical and mathematical sciences by reading on his own at the Antwerp Library of Science. He started his activities as an artist during the 1960s, a period of political agitation and growing artistic ferment.

From 1964 he participated in happenings with artist friends, and in 1967 he organised his own happenings at the newly founded Wide White Space Gallery in Antwerp. In 1967 Panamarenko also started construction of his first aircraft. In New York, in 1969, he developed his Closed system theory, and when after three months he came back to Europe he started the Aeromodeller project (June 1969). Two years later, in 1971, he attempted to fly with the zeppelin, filling the balloon with hydrogen gas near the Belgian village of Balen-Nethe.

From 1972 to 1975 he spent some time in the Dutch town of Bergeyk, where he rebuilt the Aeromodeller, which had been damaged in 1971 during the demonstration flight in Balen. In 1975 he published the book The mechanism of gravity, closed system of speed alteration, which also contains essays on the Closed System Theory (1969). Down through the years he has worked with a number of scientific theories, such as the idea of creating a magnetic field. His involvement in magnetic field studies extended from 1977 to 1983, when he also revealed his interest in building a magnetic spaceship.

In 1990 Panamarenko exhibited his first electronic chicken, ‘Archaeopteryx’ ,which he had begun constructing in 1988. During the 1990s he travelled a lot and started to develop a new theory, the Toy model space. In the Maldives, in 1990, he tested a new set of diving equipment, The Portuguese Man of War. In the first years of the 21st century he exhibited in a number of different cities (2000 in London and in Basel; 2001 in New York; 2002 in Madrid). In 2002 he opened the Antwerpse Luchtschipbouw in Borgerhout. The venue is a workshop for artists as well as an exhibition space.

Scientific studies and the special attention given to technological aspects are blended with the artistic aspects of Panamarenko’s work. Science, technology] and art are the instruments that allow the artist to approach himself and represent the possibility of movement in nature. The concept of movement and the different ways of being and living in nature are the core of his production. This is the reason why his objects are conceived for the purpose of being entered into, of being moved even of being flown. These objects are always built by the artist himself. The materials chosen, however, are far from the technical and industrial world. Their fragility increases the poetical aspect of Panamarenko’s works of art, making them still closer to nature, and even part of it.

Click download for list of exhibitions (PDF).