Nigerian born artist, designer and architect, Prince Demas Nwoko, is the recipient of the highly prestigious Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale, Venice, Italy.
The prestigious award, will be conferred on him on the 20th of May, 2023, at Ca’ Giustinian, Venice. Exhibition of the iconic architectural works of Nwoko, will be on for a period of 6 months, starting from May 20th to November 26th, 2023.
The exhibition titled ‘The Laboratory of the Future’ will be held in historical venues of Giardini, Arsenale and Forte Marghera, in the Italian city of Venice. The Stirling Pavilon will exclusively exhibit the architectural works of Nwoko.
The architectural exhibition will be curated by Professor Lesley Lokko, an international architectural academic, educator and best selling novelist of Ghanaian and Scottish descent. She has taught architecture in universities in the UK, US, Europe, Australia and Africa. She is the founder and Director African Futures Institute, established in Ghana in 2020 as a postgraduate school of architecture, research and public events platform.
On the choice of Demas Nwoko for this year’s award, Prof. Lokko, who spoke ahead of the awards ceremonies, paid glowing tributes to the works of Nwoko. According to her: “One of the central themes of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, is an approach to architecture as an expanded field of endeavour, encompassing both the material and immaterial worlds; a space in which ideas are as important as artefacts, particularly in the service of what is yet to come. With all of its emphasis on the future, it seems entirely fitting that the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement should be awarded to someone whose material works span the past 70 years, but whose immaterial legacy – approach, ideas, ethos – is still in the process of being evaluated, understood and celebrated”.
The Golden Lion Award, formerly known as ‘The Golden Lion of St. Mark’ until 1954, is the highest prize given to a film at the Venice Film Festival since 1949. In 1970, a second Golden Lion was introduced to honour people who have made important contributions to cinema and theatre architecture.
From a galaxy of eminent nominations, Demas Nwoko was finally chosen as the recipient of 2023 awards.
Baba, as Demas Nwoko is fondly called, has been at the forefront of the Nigerian Modern Arts Movement. He is everything at once: an architect, sculptor, designer, writer, set designer, critic and historian. When prodded, he refers to himself as an ‘artist-designer’ which speaks both to the polyglot nature of his talents and oeuvres and to the rather narrow interpretation of the word ‘architect’, that has arguably kept his name out of the annals.