A modern-day Leonardo da Vinci AND he’s Belgian?! Nobody told me!

Except that’s not quite true.

I had heard of the guy who calls himself Panamarenko - a name I absolutely love the sound of. So much so I am saying it aloud as I type it. Although to be fair, I’m typing this whilst on my lunch break and my colleagues are not too impressed by seeing the half-eaten mouthfuls of the tuna sandwich that I keep presenting to them so I’d better stop it.


Not saying PAN-AMA-RENKO.

But before I talk about the man who I think is the greatest Belgian ever, let’s talk about the guy who Belgium thinks is the greatest Belgian ever.

Recently, the Belgian public was asked to vote for their Greatest Belgian.

The people of Belgium let their voice be heard and they all united as one.

Wallonions and Flemish, arm in arm, ran naked in the streets with Stella Artois in hands, munching on chocolates, all screaming the same name from the top of their voices (and spitting beer and crumbs of chocolate in the process).

The name of …… Father Damiaan.

Yes quite.

Not wishing to offend any Belgians out there and I hope you will please excuse my ignorance but….

Father who?

Wasn’t he the guy with the white beard who used to hang out with the Smurfs?

So – if like me – you needed a little bit of a refresher course on who this guy is – Remember The GREATEST Belgian *EVER*, here is a brief biography:

Father Damiaan (Missionary in a lepers' colony)
Born: Tremelo, 3 January 1840

Died: Molokaï, 15 April 1889

Jozef de Veuster grew up in Tremelo, the 7th of eight children. At the end of 1863, Jozef — who in the meantime was known as Damiaan — left for missionary work in Hawaii. In 1873, Bishop Maigret decided to send him to the island of Molokaï for three months. He stayed there for the rest of his life. Ignoring advice to avoid any risk of infection, Father Damiaan worked for and with those suffering from leprosy. He eventually died in 1889 from leprosy, but had become world famous in the meantime.

So let’s this straight folks:

This is a guy from a small town in Belgium, who managed to get the dream ticket of a cushy little number preaching to the “heathen hordes” in Hawaii – Hawaii of all places – and decided to leave it to go to a leper colony to help out. Which in itself, is very commendable, although not everyone would have made the move.

But to then follow that up by going against all medical advice and staying for too long on a disease-infested island, then contracting the disease himself, and finally dying on aforementioned leper colony with aforementioned disease, could surely seem to some to be acts of anything BUT greatness.

Acts of bloody stupidity even.

Of course I think what he did was truly courageous and showed super-human levels of kindness. The guy’s complete lack of thought for his own well-being when compared with being able to help suffering people has got to be admired and the world would be a much better place if there were more people like him.

Provided they listened to some friendly advice from time to time.

I have no doubt the guy “became world famous in the meantime”. I mean – the rumours of this guy must have spread throughout the civilised world when they got a hold of this story.

Just how daft can one guy be?

Apparently not as daft as a whole country can.

But then who am I to comment? The people of Belgium have spoken and their choice has been made.

Father Abraham, sorry, Damiaan it is.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. (Is there ever a point?)

Panamarenko (there’s that name again!)

For those of you that hadn’t heard of this Belgian guy before, here’s a brief bio.

(Folks - isn’t this week’s blog just so EDUCTIONAL? Don’t panic – next weeks will be all about setting fire to one’s farts…)

Anyway – on with the show.

This is taken straight from his website
www.panamarenko.be – including the spelling and weird turn of phrase at the end.

“Panamarenko (born in Antwerp, 1940) is an exceptional and unclassifiable figure in contemporary art, who has been described as 'one of the great creators of the end of the century'.

Artist, Engineer, Poet, Physicist, Inventor and Visionary, and has for thirthy years pursued a singular course of exploration of space, movement, flight, energy and the force of gravity.

His work, fusing artistic and technological experiment, takes many forms: Aeroplanes, flying carpets, cars, flying saucers, submarines and birds. Spectacular structures of strange beauty, both playful and inspiring.

Welcome in the wondrous world of Panamarenko.”

OK – but his own website would say that, wouldn’t it?

What about website from a shit-kicking bogman from the Antrim valleys? What does it have to say about it?

Well folks –

The show finishes on Sunday (29th Jan) and if you have a chance GET TO IT BEFORE IT CLOSES!!

I know that sounds like a cop-out, but come back this time next week and we can discuss further. You can tell me what you thought about “The Raven’s Variable Matrix”, the “Prova Car” or the wonderful “K2 – The 700-metre-high flying jungle and mountain machine”.

And of course the “Aeromodeller” has to be seen to be believed.

You’ll thank me for it afterwards. Honestly you will.

Now of course I’m no art critic (no really I’m not) but I loved it.

So go to the exhibition - I’ve been there, done that, and bought the ridiculously overpriced glossy book to go with it.

You should do the same.

What are you waiting for? Go!!

Ah yes ok – WHERE is it perhaps?

It’s in the Museum of Modern Arts, Place Royale, Brussels. See website for details:

Finishes Sunday.

I’m excited for you! Have fun in a world where words like BING are in everyday usage. It will do you good.


Jenny Okanagan said…
Very educational. I'm sorry I missed the exhibition.
Now bring on the drag queens!!