The Antwerp toy maker
La favola dell'arte
format: 14 x 20 cm
date of publication: march 2003
images: 34 col.
The Belgian artist Panamarenko is described by Nico Orengo as the toy maker from Antwerp because of the ludic and experimenthal 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 beeing exhibited at the Biennale of Venice. But Pepto Bismo has a free mood-attitude and, on board white improbable airship, will run away and he will come back the stillness of the countryside, after visiting Giotto at the Cappella degli Scrovegni, where he will test new “Unidentified Flying Objects”.
Nico Orengo competes with La favola dell’arte with lightness and sagacity, speaking to the youngest among our readers. A poetic and imaginative children rhyme, a really original way to tell an artist to children.
Nico Orengo was born in 1944 in Turin, where he lives and works as the person in charge of the “TTL” cultural insert of La Stampa newspaper. “Enraptured” by Pepto Bismo, which he saw at the Biennale in Venice in 1997, and thanks to Mario Cristani and to friends at the Galleria Arte Continua in San Giminiano, Tuscany, he travelled to Belgium in company of painter Ugo Giletta to meet Panamarenko, at his house in Antwerp. He has also written many books for children and nursery rhymes such as A-ulì-ulè. Filastrocche, conte, ninnenanne, (Einaudi, Torino, 1972) and Spiaggia, sdraio e ombrellone (Einaudi, Torino, 1999). He has written, among many, stories as Dogana d’amore, (Rizzoli, Milano, 1987), poems like Cartoline di mare (Einaudi, Torino, 1984). Recently he has published a book of memories and photography called 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 muchpraised novel La curva del latte (Einaudi, Torino, 2002) about the political and cultural changes of the late 1950s.
Panamarenko was born in Antwerp in 1940, where he lives and works. Once he gradueted from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in his home town, he became a self-taught enyhusiast of science and physics. 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. At the beginning of the 1970s, Panamarenko embarked on a series of studies aiming the mechanical imitation of the flight of insects.