Polish Armenologist on Armenian art exhibition to be opened in Kielce and on his personal story

Posted on November 30, 2016

An exhibition titled The Armenian workshop – art of detail is going to be held on December 6 in the National Museum in Kielce, Poland. Scholarm.com has interviewed the curator of the exhibition Mr. Paweł Grzesik who is the head of the History Department at the National Museum in Kielce. In the interview Mr. Grzesik speaks about the exhibition as well as about his personal story of how he got interested in the Armenian studies and what inspired him on this road.   

- Mr. Grzesik, can you tell us more about the exhibition “The Armenian workshop - art of detail”? What is it going to showcase and how did you come up with the idea of organizing it? 

- The exhibition will be presented in one big room of the Museum for Intercultural Dialogue – the branch of the National Museum in Kielce. The aim of the exhibition is the presentation of the examples of the Armenian art with the accent of details - its originality, symbolism and perfection. It concerns the ornaments of rugs, belts, sabres, mace, illuminations of the manuscripts and writing in the Armenian alphabet. The exhibition will showcase pictures which I took in Armenia in summer 2015 - they show the architecture details of medieval Armenia.

The objects which will be shown come from different institutions: the National Museum in Kielce, the National Museum and Czartoryski Museum in Kraków, the Royal Castle in Warsaw - the Teresa Sahakian Foundation, the National Library in Warsaw, the Foundation for Culture and Heritage of Polish Armenians in Warsaw.

The honorary patronage of the exhibition took the Marshal of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship and the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in Poland.

There are some Armenian scientists who helped me very much with organizing the exhibition. I would like to express my gratitude to Piruza Mnatsakanyan (Matenadaran), Seyranush Manukyan (Yerevan State University), Lilia Avanesyan (History Museum of Armenia) and Armen Kyurkchyan (author of the book "Armenian ornamental art").

- Do many people in Kielce know about Armenia and is there interest in the Armenian art and culture?

- There are about 100 Armenians who live in Kielce now. There is the Armenian association in Kielce and the head of the association is Mr. Warużan Czobanian. 

I think that people in Kielce don't know much about the Armenians, but I gave some lectures about the history of Armenians in Poland and there was always a great interest. So, people don't know much but that is also the reason why they want to know more. Nowadays, in my opinion, there is really the Renaissance of the Armenian history in Poland. There are new publications, exhibitions and activities connected with the Armenian culture.

- You have been studying Armenian issues for quite some time now. How did you get involved in the Armenian studies? What are your discoveries in the world of Armenian art and culture that you would like to share?

- It all started in 2010 when Mr. Marek Axentowicz offered some memories on his father - Grzegorz Axentowicz who was a head of the Chamber of Craft in Kielce in the interwar period. The Axentowicz family is the family of Polish Armenians. The memories are different: pictures, documents or decorations. The director of the National Museum in Kielce asked me to write an article about Grzegorz Axentowicz concerning these documents. When I was writing this article I understood that Grzegorz Axentowicz had known about his Armenian roots and he accented it. That's why, beginning with that person, I started to be interested in the whole Armenian nation and the history of the Armenians in Poland. I then started to learn and read the books about the history of Armenia as well and I became fascinated with that. My article about Grzegorz Axentowicz was published in the "Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Kielcach" (Unnual of the National Museum in Kielce).

- How are the Armenian art and culture interesting for you as a Polish?

- I am deeply interested in the Armenian art and culture because it is very rich and original as a great part of the world heritage. The Armenian culture had influence on the Polish culture, especially the Early Modern period. One of the examples is how the Armenians wrote and copied the manuscripts in Poland, very richly decorated with the Armenian ornaments and symbols. Thanks to the Armenians, that style of decorations was used in the Catholic manuscripts too, for example Antiphonary of the Dominicans in Lviv.

I have been studying this topic for 5 years and the most interesting thing is very rich history and original culture of Armenia and Armenian people who live in Diaspora, like in Poland. And I want to spread the information about the Museum collections connected with the Armenian culture.

Paweł Grzesik is the Head of the Department of History at the National Museum of Kielce, Poland. The exhibition The Armenian workshop - art of detail will be opened on 6th December 2016 and will last till March 2017.


Interview by Nvard Chalikyan