Art Dubai 2018: Big diary date for art curators, collectors and enthusiasts

Amba Sayal-Bennett, Tumnus, (2017) in the Contemporary Hall. (Photo courtesy: Carbon 12)
Updated 20 March 2018

Art Dubai 2018: Big diary date for art curators, collectors and enthusiasts

DUBAI: Art lovers, curators, collectors and enthusiasts are rejoicing as the biggest and most globally diverse art fair is set to open from March 21 to 24 at Madinat Jumeirah. Under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Art Dubai’s lineup this year will feature a record 104 galleries from 47 countries. Art lovers can enjoy unique and new contemporary artists and a significant contingent of returning galleries.
Founded in 2007, it’s become one of the leading international fairs in the arts calendar and features a great range of galleries in one setting. Imagine a compiled list of the most prominent art galleries from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Kolkata, India to Turin, Italy and more, all in one fair over three days. This year will feature new first-time participants from Iceland, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan alongside the returning 77 galleries.
Jesús Bubu Negrón, Ethnographic Abstractions (2016) in the Contemporary Hall. (Photo courtesy: Henrique Faria)
Jesús Bubu Negrón, Ethnographic Abstractions (2016) in the Contemporary Hall. (Photo courtesy: Henrique Faria)tion

“For our 2018 edition, we will be launching Residents, a pioneering and unique platform that brings together different energies, synergies, geographies and artistic practices which aren’t usually seen together in one place,” said Pablo del Val, Art Dubai’s artistic director.
Art Dubai’s halls are divided into three main halls, Contemporary, Modern and, for the first time, Residents.
Art Dubai’s Contemporary’s diversity is signified by its strong representation from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Galleries include Selma Feriani Gallery (Tunis, London), Gypsum Gallery (Cairo), Artwin Gallery (Moscow), Artside Gallery (Seoul), Gallery One (Ramallah), the Athr Gallery Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Gallery 57 from Accra, Ghana, among others.
The artists range from household names to new, up-and-coming artists with a wide range of artistic media: painting, drawing, installations, photography and more.
Art Dubai’s Modern will feature a record-breaking 16 galleries exhibiting artists from 14 countries. Participating galleries will present renowned Modernists from the Middle East such as Gebran Tarazi, Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar, Hamed Abdalla and others. Leading Modernists from South Asia include Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Anwar Jalal Shemza and M.F. Husain, while notable African Modernists will include Mohammed Naghi, Reinata Sadimba, Ernesto Shikhani and more.
Zohra Opoku, Debie, (2017) in the Residents Hall. (Photo courtesy: Zohra Opoku and Mariane Ibrahim Gallery)Caption

Art Dubai’s Director Myrna Ayad said: “It’s very exciting for us to witness the growing appreciation of modern masters from the region and we are pleased to be the only platform in the world to showcase these museum-quality pieces in our largest ever Modern section, which has been the most oversubscribed to date. Serving as an educational platform and theoretical framework for the works on show, Art Dubai Modern will be accompanied by our second annual Modern Symposium at the fair this year.”
For its 12th edition, Art Dubai is presenting a gallery to showcase its 11 solo gallery presentations by artists who took part in their residency program. The program’s aims are to support artists by giving them a platform to develop their practice and create new bodies of work, inspired and influenced by their stay in the UAE. Their work will be presented by the artists’ respected galleries in a special exhibition accompanied by a range of public events and open studios hosted by the residency spaces.
Art Dubai aims to create a dialogue, engage socially in matters of art and, more importantly, educate on the significance of art in our everyday lives. Dubai is an international melting-pot and a capital for art creators, curators and directors from all over the world to meet and present their finest to the public, all in one place.
Jules de Balincourt, Valley Pool Party (2016) in the Contemporary Hall. (Photo courtesy: The artist and Victoria Miro Gallery)Caption

Interview with the director and stars of ‘The Lion King’

Twenty-five years later, director Jon Favreau has brought “The Lion King” to life again for a new generation. (Supplied)
Updated 18 July 2019

Interview with the director and stars of ‘The Lion King’

  • Jon Favreau, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner discuss Disney’s latest blockbuster remake.
  • ‘We’re trying to live up to people’s imagination of what they remember ‘Lion King’ being,’ says Favreau.

DUBAI: There are few movies as resonant as Disney’s 1994 classic “The Lion King.” From its beautiful animation and memorable songs by Hans Zimmer and Elton John to its devastating emotional punch, the film has become a touchstone for an entire generation, one of the few films that unite nearly every person who has seen it across the world.

Now, 25 years later, director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Jungle Book”) has brought “The Lion King” to life again for a new generation. Sitting in London, the first thing Favreau asks Arab News is whether we were part of the “Lion King” generation, and we were, mentioning to Favreau just how expansive the film still feels to us.

 Chiwetel Ejiofor, Director and Producer Jon Favreau and Donald Glover attend the World Premiere of Disney's "THE LION KING" in Hollywood. (AFP)

“That’s part of the challenge here! We’re trying to live up to people’s imagination of what they remember ‘Lion King’ being. We would watch it next to one another and there’s certain sequences that hold up incredibly well that we tried to follow shot-for-shot like (the opening sequence) ‘Circle of Life,’ but there’s other areas where we had the opportunity to update it and make it feel a bit more grounded in reality,” Favreau tells Arab News.

Remaking it for a new generation seems obvious, but — to borrow from another Disney classic — it was a Herculean task for Favreau and the huge animation team that supported him. This version remains fully animated, but uses cutting-edge technology to make the entire film photo-realistic. The characters, story, and songs remain, but the film looks more like a David Attenborough nature documentary than an animated movie.

It wasn’t just the technology that proved challenging, either. Making sure that audiences still connect with these beloved characters without the expressiveness of classic Disney animation was something that gave Favreau pause.


“I worked on ‘Jungle Book,’ so I had some experience in this area,” he says. “Pretty early on, we got to try some different things and when you go to human, you think it would make you feel more but it really feels kind of bizarre, at least to me. I was limited if we were to go photo-real. If you go stylized like Pixar it’s great, you can do whatever you want. If we go ‘Madagascar’ you can make them stick their tongues out. The minute you start hitting photorealism, you hit the uncanny valley when you push the performances beyond what the real animal could do. Part of what makes it look so real is we limited what we allowed the animators to do.”

To be sure that audiences would connect with the characters, Favreau relied a lot on the voices that supported them, bringing in an all-star cast including Beyoncé as Nala, Donald Glover as Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa.

“If you look at a character like Pumbaa, to me he’s the most fun example, because when people saw pictures of Pumbaa they were like, ‘Oh my god! That’s horrifying! That thing looks like a monster!’ But when you watch the movie and you hear Seth Rogen’s voice coming out of it and the way the animators animated his body and what the character represents and feels, you have a tremendous connection to it. It’s a testament to the power of using techniques that we borrowed from documentaries or other films, where we limit ourselves to not anthropomorphize the characters,” says Favreau.


Eichner and Rogen both tried to remain true to the characters, but also stay true to themselves. “My idea from the beginning was that Jon cast us for a reason,” says Eichner. “He could have cast pretty much any actors. Anyone would have killed to do these roles and be in this movie. It wasn’t the right time to try a new persona. It would have been very strange had I all of a sudden had a deep resonant baritone. I figured he wants Seth to sound like Seth and me to sound like me — or at least what our public comic personas sound-like — and hopefully they’ll complement each other, which they did. Our goal was not to try a new character but to be as funny as possible together.”

As funny as Rogen and Eichner are in the film, it is still aimed firmly at kids — something Rogen hadn’t really considered prior.

Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen at the World Premiere of Disney's "THE LION KING" in Hollywood . (AFP)

“It wasn’t something that even occurred to me until we were making the movie and I was performing the bully scene,” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is for kids!’ I have never done anything that was ever trying to instill any wisdom into kids in any way shape or form.”

The film’s wisdom, like the original, is far-reaching, exploring truths not only of family and loss, but of the corrupting nature of ambition and power, which Ejiofor explored in his role as Scar.

“Often, when people are obsessed with power and status, they aren’t really worried about what they do with it, they’re just concerned about getting it. It’s not something that’s connected to any kind of nurturing aspect for a community or anybody else. It becomes about the nature of obsession — obsession with power and status, and maybe status more than power, even though they are related,” says Ejiofor. “That’s one of the things that’s engaging and fun about the film and its themes.”