The Belgian artist Panamarenko is described by Nico Orengo as the toy maker from Antwerp because of the ludic and experimental peculiarity of a great many of his works.
The character of the children rhyme is Panamarenko/Pepto Bismo, a sculpture of the artist and a flying little man who, after leaving his studio in Antwerp, allows himself a journey by flight and by sea. Then he is fished out for being exhibited at the Biennale of Venice. But Pepto Bismo has a free mood-attitude and, on board of a white improbable airship, he will run away to come back to the stillness of the countryside, after visiting Giotto at the Cappella degli Scrovegni, where he will test new “Unidentified Flying Objects”.
Nico Orengo (Turin, 1944-2009), has written, among others, A-ulì-ulè. Filastrocche, conte, ninnenanne, (Einaudi, Torino, 1972) and Spiaggia, sdraio e ombrellone (Einaudi, Torino, 1999), Dogana d’amore, (Rizzoli, Milano, 1987), poems like Cartoline di mare (Einaudi, Torino, 1984), Terre blu (Melangolo, 2000), a touching and philosophical fairy tale for adults with the title L’allodola e il cinghiale (Einaudi, Torino, 2001), illustrated by Luigi Mainolfi, and the much praised novel La curva del latte (Einaudi, Torino, 2002) about the political and cultural changes of the late 1950s.
Panamarenko (Antwerp, 1940 - Brakel, 2003), artist and inventor, he was one of the most relevant personalities of the Belgian panorama in the 70s. Between ’62 and ’64 he experiments, together with Hugo Heyrman, with new materials, chiefly polyesters, which enabled the most varied of objects to be made. Prolific, visionary, experimental, Panamarenko has created an incredible set of objects with which “to play”, in which Utopya plays an important role. His first, real “machines” such as Prova-Car, a white metal model of a futuristic racing car, or the human-propulsion Airship (also called Six-bladed Helicopter) as well as the flying machines he was to build later, are the superbe result of an alchemy made of sofisticated calculations and archaic construction which evoke the poetic, epic dimension of human flight, lost since Leonardo da Vinci, and restore the nostalgic image of the pioneer, of adventure and exploration.