Gheorghe Leahu – Bucharest’s Architectonic Curiosities





From August 23rd to November 3rd 2019, the Conferences Hall of Dr. Nicolae Minovici Museum will host the exhibition “Bucharestian Architectonic Curiosities: Gheorghe Leahu”. The watercolor townscapes were a generous donation of the author to the Bucharest Municipality Museum.

Architect and watercolorist, Gheorghe Leahu was born on May 10th 1932 in Chișinău, and in 1940 arrived in Bucharest with his family. Between 1951 and 1957 he studied architecture at the Ion Mincu Architecture Institute. Here he had the opportunity to learn from tutors such as Duiliu Marcu or Octav Doicescu, who had been educated in western institutions, who had practiced architecture during the interwar period and who cultivated his special respect for architectural patrimony. During 1957 – 1991 he practiced architecture at the Bucharest Project Institute, an institution responsable with designing the urbanistic and architectural plans of Romania’s capital. This way Gheorghe Leahu came to be in charge with designing some of the most emblematic buildings of the 70s and 80s, such as the Unirea shop.

When he was 17 years old, during a school trip, Gheorghe Leahu created his first watercolors based on architectural subjects. As a watercolorist and architect, Gheorghe Leahu declared that he tried to create authentic deeds. A series of watercolors which represent urban landscapes from Bucharest’s old city center, were collected by Leahu in an album called Bucharest – architecture and color, published in 1989 at Sport-Turism Publishing House. After 1989, Leahu showcased his watercolors in numerous exhibitions in Romania and abroad (New York – 1992, Vienna – 1994, Chicago – 1995, Paris – 2001, Venice – 2002).

The exhibition organized at Dr. Nicolae Minovici Museum showcases a few watercolors from the album Bucharest – architecture and color. The exhibition’s title, Bucharestian Architectonic Curiosities, is inspired by a watercolor piece of two houses situated in the same courtyard on Atelierului Street. The large windows and exterior staircase offer the composition a special dynamism, while the open gate invites us to go inside. The watercolors present unique images of Bucharest, depicted with accuracy and great detail. The volumes, proportions, shadows and colors generate an airy urban atmosphere, often animated by the silouhettes of passerby or cars. Most of the watercolors were painted in the 80s and 90s of the previous century.

Some of the places recorded by Gheorghe Leahu in his paintings are: Solacolu Inn on Calea Moșilor, Dinu Lipatti Music College, North Railway Station Market and Sora Shop, Obor Train Station, Popa Chițu Church, Doamnei Street (described by the author as a typical Little Paris street), the Lutheran Church and the apartment blocks in the Palace’s Market, Bărăţiei Tower, Victoriei Passage across the Palace of Telephones and the Russian Church.