Belgian artist, born in Antwerp. There has been some speculation as to the origin of his pseudonym. It may derive from the name of a Soviet general responsible for the quelling of riots in East Germany or from Pan American Airways with a Russian-sounding ending. His original name was Henri van Herwegen, although many sources are conspicuously silent on this. He operates in a field somewhere between art and fantastic invention. A constant theme is the attempt to defy gravity. One example of his work is The Aeromodeller (1969–71), a balloon designed to impress the actor Brigitte Bardot and supposedly providing the artist a means to elope with her. The Flying Cigar (1980) was designed to use the magnetic force of the earth to power a spaceship, a concept which strikes the non-physicist as about as plausible as the perpetual motion machine. Indeed his work seems more in the tradition of Duchamp's ultimately tragic ‘bachelor machines’ than the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci and is visually striking rather than functional.
http://www.diaart.org/exhibs/panamarenko/orbit/essay.html ‘Panamarenko: Orbit’: essay by Lynne Cooke on the Dia art foundation website.