Medi Wechsler Dinu – a contemporary inter-war 106-year-old painter


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‘Do the most you can to have a beautiful life. I was happy’, advise us the Romanian painter Medi Wechsler Dinu.

Medi (Margareta) Wechsler Dinu, born on December 22, 1908, at Brezoi, Valcea County (southwestern Romania), was daughter of the musician Amalia (Lili) Wechsler and accountant Daniel Wechsler. She finished high school in Bucharest at Choisi Mangru Finishing School where she learned French, the 4th language she speaks, next to German, Romanian and Magyar.  As a student, she had the chance to learn from important painters and art teachers of the time, such as Ipolit Strâmbulescu and Jean Al. Steriadi who have considered her to be the most talented of the class. She takes her degree at Belle Arte School in 1932.

She signs up in Mathematics University where she has as teacher Dan Barbilian (pen name Ion Barbu, also a Romanian poet) and in parallel she takes lectures in Philosophy University where she studied with Dimitri Gusti and Nae Ionescu (he guided philosophers Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran and Constantin Noica).

She made her debut in 1932 at the Official Salon Black and White with a self-portrait, work that receives feedback from critics:’ Medi Wechsler sent us this year a self-portrait in pencil.  Will she type it the next time?’

In 1934 she has the opportunity to go and paint for a month in Balchic at the Romanian artists’ house of creation. She remains forever in love with Balchik, (the same as Queen Maria of Romania) and this can be seen in her paintings.  She meets the most of the older painters who worked in Balchik, Iser, Darascu, Lucian Grigorescu, etc. Between 1934-1939, Medi Wechsler completed a great number of works, oils, and watercolors except for pencil drawings or sketches but her works remained almost unknown till early in the third millennium.

From 1940, she’s forbidden to leave Bucharest and also to display any of her works due to the racial laws, and this is the moment when she refuses to paint. In order to support herself she accepts a drawing teacher position for Hebrew Children School. She has as students the future painters Maria Constantin and Yvonne Hasan but also the future poetess Nina Cassian and future journalist Sanda Faur.

In 1945, 1946, 1947, perhaps with nostalgia for Dobrogea, particularly for Balchik, Medi Wechsler goes to Mangalia and paints landscapes and portraits of locals: Turks, Tatars, Greeks, and Macedonians realized, as usual, in pencil. From 1948 she paints in different regions in Romania, such as Vi?eul de Jos (portraits), Medgidia and Jurilovca (1949, water colors), Sinaia (1950, water colors), Cozieni (1951), Brezoi (her native town), where in 1952 she paints water colors landscapes. In 1954 she has a personal exhibition in Bucharest.

Later, from 2003 she has several exhibits in Bucharest (Romanian Contemporary Seniors Painters at Apollo Gallery – 2003), in March 2008 at Elite Art Gallery, Bucharest, in Tulcea (November 2008 – at the Art Museum – a personal exhibit in water colors, works made at Sulina, Danube Delta). In February 2009, the artist displayed a centenary retrospective exhibit at the Romanian Foundation for Science and Art of the Romanian Academy.

At 106 years old Medi Wechsler Dinu is the star of Hebrew Home for old people where she wakes up at 6 o’clock every morning, according to PRO TV. She hasn’t lost her sense of humor and responds ‘God forbid’ to ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes.

At 106 years old she reads every night and wonders if the characters she admires were happy.

Throughout her career, Medi Wechsler has made a numerous of portraits of Romanian cultural personalities: George Bacovia, Agatha Bacovia, Victor Brauner, Zaharia Stancu, Aurel Baranga, Heda Stern, George Topârceanu, etc.

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