In Persian, “the man who reveals the world” is a word possessing an aura of nobility and, for this reason, I very much prefer it to another Persian word djahângir “he who conquers the world”.
Cihannümâ : the transcription of djahânnâma in Turkish, has the same etymological sense but, when used in an architectural context, also means a “belvedere”, i.e. a graceful structure raised on poles or corbelled out from the wall of a building thus offering extensive views, and from which, the rahat dede, the learned bon vivant, reclining comfortably on cushions with a glass of rakı at hand, calmly surveys the vain agitation of the world at his feet.
Presence and detachment.
Contemplation of the beauty of the terrestrial scene, and melancholy reflections on its ephemeral nature : the oriental man knows how to combine sensual pleasure and meditation.
The role of the travelling photographer is, I believe, to reveal the world, to show what most people cannot see, do not know how to see, or even, in some cases, refuse to see. In doing so, he also offers glimpses of his own inner world…
Born in Lyons in 1947, Paul Veysseyre’s adolescence was marked by a passionate interest in Ancient Greece and in Japan, especially for their architecture. At the same time, browsing through his father’s bookshelves, he discovered photography. Then followed long and varied advanced studies at Lyons university : maths, economics, history of art, Japanese…
From the outset of his university career he became involved in what would become guiding forces of his life : adventurous travel and photography. Inspired by the country, in the course of his first and very long peregrination, Turkey became his second homeland. His enduring passion for vernacular architecture and growing acquaintance with Byzantine civilization and the World of Islam led him to travel extensively in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
In 1974, he gave up his doctoral studies in economics at the university of Tokyo in order to go and work in Morocco. After three years abroad teaching mathematics, he decided to launch out into professional photography in Lyons ; his first personal exhibition taking place in 1978.
Later at İstanbul, he worked as a photographer for the French Institute of Anatolian Studies, where he became an expert in archeological photography.
From 1987 to 2015, Paul Veysseyre worked at the Gallo-Roman Museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal and taught photography at Lyon 3 university. He supervised the publication of several books devoted to archeology and the restoration of works of art, amongst them L’Usure du temps in 1998 and Sauvé des eaux in 2007.
Apart from this, he has not lost his wanderlust as is witnessed by his photo reports from the Balkans, Kurdistan, the Caucasus and Central Asia which have been the subject of several exhibitions.
Paul Veysseyre started getting interested in the world of printing and publishing during his high-school years. He was passionate at the time about the first printed newspapers, which appeared during the 18th century, particularly for those from the French revolutionary period. About ten years later, his calling as a photographer having been asserted, he realized how the spreading of photography relies essentially on their reproduction in the press and publishing and how as a result its quality heavily depended on the printing techniques used. Through specialized magazines and books he then got interested in the various methods commonly used in the seventies.
Thanks to this mostly theoretical background and having learned from an unfinished first experience with a reputable Swiss publisher, he started to dream about publishing his own photography books himself. For many years, waiting to have mastered all the necessary technical skills, he patiently gathered his shots and enlargements for his future books on Turkey and the Middle East.
However his first real publishing experiences occurred as part of his job in the Gallo-Roman Museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal and later during his collaboration with ARC-Nucléart (Grenoble). First La Maison des dieux océans, completed in 1992 with his archaeologist friends, using means that would soon become completely obsolete : laying out the page on paper, typing text with linotype, using photo engraving film, proof-printing, a monochrome press… He then produces for the museum all kinds of brochures, flyers, posters and postcards for which, little by little, he masters alone the new techniques derived from the numeric revolution. For his later works L’Usure du temps (1998) and Sauvé des eaux (2007) he undertakes the page layout and production entirely himself.
He considers himself at this point sufficiently experienced to created his own publishing house, Djahânnâma, and starting in 2012 he publishes, in three languages, his first personal book : İstanbul, Gateway to Happiness, followed in 2013 by the Turkish version : İstanbul Yâdigârı, kadîm şehir anısına. In order to obtain the best possible quality when printing his black and white photographs, he opts for a rarely used method : trichromy ; in France only a handful of people really master it, but he is lucky enough to meet a photo-engraver in Lyon Jacques Poirier, and a printer, François Canard, who had already used it successfully.
The book Anatolia, Transient Lives, published in 2016, was also printed in trichromy, as will soon be Djahânnâma, traveling towards the Orient.