About the artwork


Brazil is the first work that the Liedts-Meesen Foundation purchased for the meeting room of Zebrastraat. On Thursday, March 22, 2005 Panamarenko himself helped to install the sculpture. It is also one of the last works he made, because on September 29, 2005, at the very opening of the Panamarenko major retrospective at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, he announced the end of his artistic career.

The desire to defy gravity has been occupying Panamarenko since his childhood. Aircrafts, aerodynamics and engines moving on their own fascinate him tremendously.

A scene from the movie Brazil by Terry Gilliam in 1985, in which the main character dreams of flying on his own, inspired Panamarenko for the sculpture. The film is about the power of imagination which offers the possibility to escape from a structured society. Panamarenko identified himself with the character, who wants to flee from reality and the absurd society. Interesting to know is the fact that the sculpture originated in Michelbeke, the village in the Flemish Ardennes that he traded for the big city of Antwerp. There, he has the time and space to try out his devices.

"The man should take off as he runs at forty km per hour," says Panamarenko. "To help him, he wears a motor on his back that propels him with a force equivalent to 12 kg. It is a very simple principle." According to him, one of the great misconceptions is that many think that his constructions and assemblies do not work. "They work for ninety percent, but that's for me to know and for the rest to discover. Indeed, the dream remains". The most important for Panamarenko are the design and the time of trial and error.

The sculpture is composed of a foldable wing structure made of various materials, and an electric motor. For the first conceptual drawing he used the title Brazil Ornitopter, an amalgamation of the Greek words 'ornis' (bird) and 'pteron' (wing), short for a bird's fly. Panamarenko himself modeled for this sculpture, wearing a foldable wing with a span of over 6 m on his back. He wears the uniform of an officer of the Confederates from the American Civil War, in order to create an image as realistic as possible.