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Panamarenko—visionary, friend, mentor

Panamarenko (1940-2019) was one of the most fiercely independent and outright brilliant artists of the postwar period. His unclassifiable work had a massive influence on generations of artists—including Rogier Vancamelbecke.


Since a young age Rogier was inspired by Panamarenko’s art and admired its independence and originality. More specifically, both are inspired by the forms of nature and by the scientifically informed design spirit of the sixties—a period that harnessed the affordances of industrial and mechanical innovation for bold visions of a future that would combine poetry, robustness, and comfort. For Rogier, his design work is an incessant attempt to make that anticipated future present.

Rogier recognizes that his own perspective on design is informed by his encounter with Panamarenko’s work when he was a teenager; it is honed by casual Sunday afternoon coffee and whiskey with Panamerenko at Rogier’s studio. Talking to the artist is like a free masterclass on how to create, how to visualize ideas, and how to turn personal impulses into a tangible unique reality.

It is no secret that young creatives face a bumpy road. Panamerenko’s lifelong example of setting out and persisting on his own idiosyncratic trajectory has been a source of strength for many young artists and designers, and Rogier is one of them. Panamerenko is far too modest to call himself an artistic godfather—but the truth is that that is exactly what he has been for Rogier.

Panamarenko and his wife Eveline Hoorens enjoying themselves at the Orbit table in 2015.

Pictures were taken in Rogier Vancamelbecke’s Studio during an interview for the Belgian newspaper De Morgen.

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