Sandu Mendrea

Biografie şi Bibliografie

Sandu Mendrea was born in 1930 in Romania. He spent the war years relatively safely in the country's capital, Bucharest, where he started his studies for a M.A. in theatre and film directing in 1948, the year the Communists took over power. After working for four years as a director of documentary films, he decided in 1956 to abandon this field which in those days was dominated by Soviet propaganda, and take the camera into his own hands - as a photographer.

He was soon to become one of the country's best-known photographers, which allowed him to exhibit at over 200 international photography exhibitions. After winning several major awards, he received the title "Excellency of the International Photographer's Federation" (EFIAP) in 1965.

After 1968, he periodically travelled abroad and subsequently published photography books about the cities and countries he visited, such as Switzerland, Weimar, New York, Leningrad and Prague. This continued until 1983, when after getting his new project on Denmark through censorship, the book was withdrawn from printing - because of lack of paper... This event convinced him about the complete lack of prospects in communist Romania, and helped him and his family decide to leave for Israel. After a life in which his Jewish identity played a very peripheral role, and for a man with deep ties with his Romanian home country, it was a very hard decision to take.

At the end of 1986, the Mendreas were allowed to leave.

Once in Israel, hes soon discovered the photographically most interesting place in the country: the Wailing Wall. The Hassidic men in their picturesque, ancient-style garments praying together with fully armed soldiers, prophet-like looking old rabbis, intently reading next to bored little boys, too young to really participate in their grandfathers' rituals, the always present combination of deep religious feeling and the typical chaos of this public site and tourist attraction - all this made him come and photograph the place time and again over the last nine years.

Dozens of statuesque, melancholy or amusing pictures are the result. What they all have in common is the note of respect, together with the straight-forwardness with which he approaches these people who are basically so different from him, and the streak of mystery they preserve in his pictures.

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