“He lives in Cairo. With the delicacy that characterizes him, he practices a photography apparently calm, unbelievably demanding, crossed by permanent doubts and moved by the indispensable personal relation that he will maintain with this – and those – that he will install in the square of his camera. His passion for people, for others, naturally led him to develop portrait as a mode of privileged representation, the desire to get closer to who they were. And he did it, with Catherine Deneuve as with anonymous people from the neighborhoods of Cairo, with the same discretion that expects the other to give him what he hopes, without asking, hoping that it will happen. So, patiently, he built an hitherto unseen portrait of the capital of this Egypt with which he has a romantic, even passionate relationship, mixing black and white with exemplary classicism with colors of a rare subtlety, an absolute alternative to all the clichés, cultural and touristic, which clutter our minds. ”
“The first draft of my work is not a political choice, but a choice of love. I fell in love in Egypt, of Egypt. During my first stay, I discovered the pleasure of oriental luxury, the evenings on the edge of the Nile, the music, the smell of oleanders, but, on the other hand, I choked. I started to focus on the popular district of Gamaleya. I discovered people, their homes, their working conditions. It was Zola. Germinal at the end of the twentieth century. Hallucinating hardness of the workshops, metal foundries in which were squeezed fifteen workers in a tiny space. But at the same time fellowship I have rarely known. While I would have screamed my hatred of the whole world, they smiled. I had wise men in front of me, angels and damned. These workers served as models for the greatest Egyptian writers, such as Naguib Mahfouz or Albert Cossery. I wanted to show their faces. Those we laugh at, whom we despise, those who have nothing but often much more than I, with only my rage to rebel against their misery. Since my first stay in 1992, my vision of Egypt and its people has not changed. I continue to be interested in the same people. They are the ones that matter to me, they are the ones I shed light on. I chose to sublimate them by meticulous work. Each person, each still life or landscape allows me to deal with these choices. ”
“It is through the beautiful book that Paul Strand devoted to this country that I discovered Ghana. It was a shock and I thought that one day I too would go to discover and photograph this country.
After the publication of my book Son of King, published by Gallimard and entirely devoted to Egypt, it was time for me to renew my inspiration, to approach other landscapes, other ways of being , and I decided to leave to discover sub-Saharan Africa, since that is how we must now call black Africa, still a beautiful name.
It was with the fishermen of Jamestown that I experienced my first shock in Ghana. I was caught in these scenes as strong as those found in some old paintings, these lights on the seaside, dazzling and sometimes transforming men into silhouettes. I loved, after the Egyptian modesty, the beautiful and free nakedness of Ghanaian bodies. For a photographer, these bodies are a gift. And then the meeting of my friend Joseph allowed me to discover his village in the Ashanti region. But Ghana is not an easy country to tame. I had to go back to it several times, go there, come back to it. During my last trip, my obstinacy was rewarded: I discovered a village at the foot of Lake Volta where I made very beautiful encounters and maybe my best portraits, the mad men of the village, the children and once again fishermen who live without electricity two steps from a tourist resort.
I love this feeling of perpetual discovery that brings me back to childhood and that I try to live as an eternally renewed birth. ”
Denis Dailleux – Egypt / Ghana
From September 7 to October 26, 2019
102 chaussée de Vleurgat