”Art is the delight of the moment of communicating the ultimate truths through beauty.”
Armine Galentz was born in Damascus (Syria) in 1920 in a family of teachers – Tigranuhi and Sargis Paronyans, originally from Adapazar (Turkey). Armine Galentz was born in Damascus (Syria) in 1920 in a family of teachers – Tigranuhi and Sargis Paronyans, originally from Adapazar (Turkey). In the autumn of 1920 when Ottoman Empire was temporary peaceful, Armine Galentz’s family returned to Adapazar with the aim of again settling down in their homeland. Nevertheless, soon unrest and prosecution of Armenians restarted all over different parts of Turkey.
It was then that Armine’s father passed away, and Tigranuhi, a 22 years old young woman, was left alone with her two children – 6-month-old Armine, and her elder brother Aram. Managing to survive the atrocities of the Kemalist soldiers, Armine’s mother had to leave her son Aram in an American orphanage on her way and continue her escape, by carrying little Armine in her arms. After all she managed to reach Polis (Istanbul) by a French ship. In 1926, after having lived in Polis for 6 years, Tigranuhi moved to Aleppo, Syria, with little Armine, where, fortunately, Aram joined them. The cruel and enduring days and years of wandering life began, ”by changing jobs and moving from one place to another”; during this dreadful period the Armenian migrants were wherever they could procure bread.
1926-1935: Primary Education
To get her primary education, at the age of 6, Armine attended Haigazian College in Aleppo, graduating it in 1931. Afterwards her family moved to Jerusalem (Palestine) in 1931. Armine attended the Holy Targmanchats (Translators’) School in Jerusalem till 1933. These years were significant for the future painter as parallel to obtaining basic knowledge in Armenian History and Literature, she also got spiritual education, the latter set ground for her to later develop her well-known philosophical series. Armine’s family again moved from Jerusalem to Aleppo (Syria) where Armine began to attend the French College of Saint Joseph Convent.
Armine’s dream came true; she visited Rome – the art world, where she wanted to reside and study art. She went back to Syria with a distinct decision of becoming an artist but Jirayr (Girardo) Orakyan, an Armenian artist whom Armine had met in Aleppo, persuaded her to change her mind, supporting his view with the hard living conditions and consolidation of fascism in Italy. According to Orakyan, the modern art lived in France, and thus he advised her to go there.
Armine Galentz (Paronyan) had always been close to art; she loved music, literature, dancing. Years later Armine noted in her memoirs that if it were not for the strong hand of Galentz and Rome, her inner potential would have been expressed differently.
”I love art and I should follow it”
In 1938 Armine got acquainted with Onik Topuzyan who informed her about the Armenian painter Haroutiun Galentz living in Beirut. Armine left for Beirut immediately. She met Haroutiun Galentz at the studio of Claude Michellet, hence becoming his student. She would later state, ”Haroutiun Galentz’s Studio became my Italy.”
«Իմ Իտալիան դարձավ Հարություն Կալենցի արվեստանոցը»
A year passed with a tough working plan at Haroutiun Galentz’s studio. Armine had such a progressive development that already in 1939 she was granted an opportunity to participate in the International Exhibition in New York, as a member of the working group dealing with the design of the Lebanon pavilion. As a result, she was awarded a certificate of Honour by the Lebanon Government.
A year later, after graduating, Armine returned to Aleppo, starting her individual work… She was the only woman-artist in Aleppo.
Armine got acquainted with Jean Lofren, the Manager of the Monuments Preservation and Restoration Department in northern Syria, as well as the Director of the Museum of Aleppo. Later on they became good friends; it was due to him that Armine travelled throughout Syria, studying and learning about it. Jean Lofren also introduced Armine to some intellectuals, and the friendship with him and his family lasted even after Armine Galentz’s moving to Soviet Armenia.
Armine’s first exhibition was held in the Hotel ”Paron” in Aleppo where the majority of her works were purchased.
The work connections between Armine and Haroutiun Galentz still continued; sometimes they would meet each other. Galentz closely followed Armine’s professional development.
Haroutiun Galentz and Armine got married on May 2, 1943, in the St. Nishan Church in Beirut; St. Mary’s painting on the alter was done by Haroutiun Galentz, and the sitter was Armine herself.
Armen, the first child in the family of the Galentzs, was born in February.
Armine set up her large-scale exhibition in the Academy of Fine Arts in Beirut which was a success and got much positive feedback. The welcoming speech of the exhibition was made by the brother of the President of Lebanon, renowned lawyer Salim al Khouri.
‘The first and most exciting impression was that of Masis. Its snowy top had some royal, heavenly thing in it.”
In June the family of Galentzs moved to Soviet Armenia with the first caravan of repatriates. ”The first and most exciting impression was that of Masis. Its snowy top had some royal, heavenly thing in it”.
In May Armine Galentz reached Armenia with her family. By settling down in Yerevan, the Galentzs rented a small room at that time in the outskirts of Yerevan /today it is the neighbourhood of the railway on Komitas Street/.
In June Armine Galentz became a member of the Artists’ Union of Soviet Armenia.
Her second son Saro was born in October. The painters began to build their house according to Haroutiun Galentz’s plan, on the piece of land allocated to the Galentzs in the district of Arabkir.
The first exhibition of the works of the repatriates was organized on April 27.
Armine Galentz (that time the painter signed her works still as Armine Paronyan) was the only female participant. Her landscape oil paintings on canvas and a number of aquarelles painted in Lebanon were displayed at the exhibition.
After participating in the exhibition of the new works of the Armenian painters held at the Artists’ Union in April, huge waves of criticism crashed on the Galentz couple: like in the case of Haroutiun Galentz, Armine Galentz’s (Paronyan) work ”In the Motherland” met rough criticism: as it was stated in the critique ”it is a result of imitating bourgeois painting.” The article published in the ”Komunist” (Communist) newspaper – the central organ of the Soviet authorities, had huge impacts on Armine’s professional life as well; like in the case of Galentz, she was not allowed to participate in the exhibitions held by the Union either. As it was the only way of selling works within the system of the Soviet state orders, the Galentzs were deprived from the opportunity to earn their leaving. Moreover, artists who were in the same situation, were considered as ”spongers” and subject to criminal punishment, even up to being exiled…
”We were not able to lead a creative life, we couldn’t think of painting as it became only a dream for us since we were not able to meet the basic human needs.”
Armine Galentz had an influential speech during the congress held at the Artists’ Union, by criticising the policy towards repatriates. In fact the congress failed because of her speech; as a result, they had to live like in a vacuum for around two weeks.
For the first time an exhibition of the Armenian woman-painters was organized in the halls of the Artists’ Union of Armenia, devoted to March 8th which later became an annual event. Armine Galentz (Paronyan) had a number of portraits and landscape paintings displayed at the exhibition.
Armine Galentz took part in the exhibition of portraits held at the Artists’ Union of Armenia in February.
The large-scale solo exhibition of Armine Galentz opened in the Artists’ Union of Armenia on March 20. 90 paintings, 25 colour pictures, aquarelles, graphics done since 1956 in Armenia were exhibited (the exhibition lasted till April 11 and had 7000 visitors. On April 10 an evening-meeting was organized with the painter. Media outlets: ”Komunist” 25.03.1962/ 20.04.1962; ”In the Search for Creation”, ”It is Fresh and New” Y. Kochar, ”Soviet Art” 7.11.1962).
23 years later Armine returned to her homeland – Syria, where her mother Tigranuhi, and her brother lived with his family. She visited the sites of her childhood and adolescence, went from one city to another, working nonstop. She depicted the ancient monuments of Palmyra, the Arab villages, Kesab located somewhere in northern Syria, with its Armenian inhabitants who maintained the traditions of their ancestors.
These works of Armine Galentz were exhibited at the Aleppo Culture House as a sign of strengthening the Armenian-Arab friendship.
The exhibition was entitled ”Travelling in Syria” and the Mayor of Aleppo and the Minister of Culture of Syria had an opening speech at the exhibition.
The exhibition entitled ”Travelling in Syria” by Armine Galentz opened at the Artists’ Union of Armenia.
1967 was a turning year in Armine’s life; she lost her beloved one, her teacher – Haroutiun Galentz.
Armine entered another, new phase of searching her own way.
In 1967 Armine Galentz was awarded the title of Honorary Artist of Soviet Armenia /this was one of the state awards given to artists during the Soviet period/. On May 9 Armine Galentz opened a hall-studio to exhibit the selected canvases by Haroutiun Galentz. It was in this studio that she worked till the last days of her life.
In 1970 Armine entered a new creative phase; she took over the series of the visual compositions ”Longing” and ”Life”, working in the most simplified way with lines and colours, considering line as ”spiritual pointer”, while colour as psychological state.
These series were first exhibited only ten years later in 1980.
1970 – Armine was engaged in organizing exhibitions of Haroutiun Galentz’s works in the Central House of Writers of Moscow. Poet A. Dimshits contributed to the organization of the exhibition in Moscow.
1971 – Armine organized an exhibition of Haroutiun Galentz’s works in the House of Writers after Mayakovsky in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and writer Dmitry Moldavsky and Tatyana Makhmuryan, Art Historian in the Union of Writers of Leningrad, assisted her in it.
Armine’s solo exhibition opened in the Armenian Museum in Paris in October. Armine had painted the 20 canvases displayed at the exhibition in France during her 3 month’s travel.
Armine visited Canada, travelling throughout the country for around a month. Here she painted a number of urban landscape paintings which were displayed at her solo exhibition held at the club of the Tekeyan Union. Armine Galentz also had a meeting with Diaspora Armenians.
Armine opened her solo exhibition at the Artists’ Union of Armenia. This exhibition was of great importance for her as it was then that she presented her “Life” and “Longing” series to the public, series that even her close friends had never seen before.
She presented not only a new technological approach but quite a new way of thinking. Besides the great public feedback, the exhibition was also attended by the Armenian political elite of that time, headed by Karen Demirchyan, the First Secretary of the Communist Party, and it is notable that such kind of visits were not frequent.
Armine began to write her book of memories about Haroutiun Galentz – a book about her beloved person, the artist, and about herself as well. Writing the book took Armine many years; it happened so that she stopped writing it even for a few years, by later returning to her memories again and again, her memories on a whole era called GALENTZ.
Armine returned to Syria and set up her solo exhibition entitled ”East” in Aleppo.
At the invitation of the Artists’ Union of Georgia, Armine presented her series ”Life” and ”Longing” in Tbilisi. The exhibition lasted for 2 months and was a great success.
The exhibition of the works of Haroutiun and Armine Galentzs opened at the Institute of Physics in Yerevan in 1988, and it was devoted to Artem Alikhanyan’s 80th anniversary.
Armine began to work on the triptych ”Prayer” where she reflected her struggles and pain which were the result of the fatal events befell the Armenians – the destructive earthquake of Spitak, Sumgait massacres.
In 1991 Armine Galentz went to the USA where she travelled, having a productive working period.
In March of 1992 she opened her solo exhibition in the Pan-Armenian National Centre in Los Angeles, presenting her stories, portraits and landscape paintings she did in the USA.
Armine Galentz returned to Yerevan in 1993.
She set up a solo exhibition in the Artists’ Union of Armenia in 1994.
In 1994-1995 Armine continued the work on her book about Haroutiun Galentz which she had started since 1982. In 1995 she went to the USA to have her heart operated on. Armine Galentz’s book ”Forgive me, Haroutiun” was published in 1997.
A retrospective solo exhibition is organized at the Artists’ Union of Armenia, devoted to Armine Galentz’s 80th anniversary.
Armine Galentz presented 2 canvases at the Women International Exhibition in the Manege (Moscow) in 2003.
Armine Galentz had worked on her second book since 2003 for around a year, and her book entitled “Reflections: Armine Galentz about Herself” was published in 2004.
In October 2004, Armine set up an exhibition in the Hall of Albert and Tove Boyajians in Yerevan Academy of Fine Arts, presenting works from her pastel flower series painted during the last year. This was in fact the last solo exhibition in Armine’s life; the painter’s eyesight abruptly became poor during those years, thus she was almost deprived of the opportunity to paint.
Armine Galentz presented her canvas ”Prometheus” within the project ”Creative Combination” implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia in 2005.
On November 22, 2007, Armine Galentz passed away in her house in Yerevan.