During the exhibition Operation Panamarenko, visitors can follow the conservation of two major works of art by the Belgian artist Panamarenko. His Polistes, a jet-propelled rubber car, and Aeroplane continental, both from 1974 and originally from the Visser collection, are carefully treated in the large sculpture room in the Quist wing under the gaze of the public and in the presence of the artist.
Due to the regular exhibitions, transportation and assembly, the sculptures have inevitably suffered damage and wear. They have also become very fragile due to their age and the material used. For example, Polistes is made of a wood and metal frame covered with a thick layer of foam and a skin of rubber, which is supposed to have a deep black-green shine. But the foam has become brittle and the rubber has dried out and started to crack.
Aeroplane continental is heavily deformed and the wing suspension bracket has broken off. The work is placed on the museum floor in pieces during the exhibition. The artist had covered the aircraft in transparent foil, artificial silk, rubber and adhesive tape. All these materials are seriously eroded and the glue joints are yellowing.
Photographs as a reference
Prior to the conservation work, the conservators studied old exhibition photos of the works to determine how they were originally intended to look and how the condition has changed over time. These photographs are also presented in the space and are provided with descriptions of the damage and the proposed treatment.
Panamarenko's 'Polistes' (1974) at Bergeijk (M HKA)
To avoid new damage during transport, new crates are custom-made for both artworks. In consultation with Panamarenko, a manual is drawn up with a precise description of how the works can best be assembled and dismantled in the future.
In consultation with Panamarenko about the crates for 'Aeroplane continental' (1974)