Saturday, September 06, 2014

Federico Aguilar Alcuaz is one of the country’s foremost Masters, whose artistic practice not only demonstrated his vast talent, but also established the depths of his intellect. A Titan of the Modernist Era of Philippine art history, his often perplexing behavior only served to establish a legendary artistic career. Declared a National Artist by both the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2009, Aguilar Alcuaz status will soon be confirmed by the President of the Philippines.

The first exhibition of this important artist after his confirmation as National Artist will be held at Galerie Joaquin in San Juan. Appropriately titled “Essential Abstracts: National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz,” the exhibition will showcase abstract works culled from the artist’s own personal collection. The works demonstrate the lyrical quality of his practice, showcasing the artist’s mastery of harmony and balance. The never-before-seen works are far more intricate than what the public has already seen, making this exhibition a must-view for anyone interested in Philippine art history.

Federico Aguilar Alcuaz was born on June 6, 1932, the sixth of eleven children of Mariano Aguilar and Encarnacion Alcuaz. The young Federico attended San Beda College and Ateneo de Manila Law School, graduating in the 1955. His family had intended him to be a lawyer. He was, however, an artist at heart and while still in law school, he enrolled in fine arts classes at University of the Philippines, where his teachers included National Artists Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino. The young artist’s talent was already showing during this period, when he won both First Prize at the Shell Annual Art Completion and Second Prize at the Art Association of the Philippines’ Annual Art Competition in 1954. Then in 1955, upon the recommendation of painter and art patron Fernando Zobel, he received a scholarship grant from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to study at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, which became his initial base, although he later moved to Barcelona where he joined an art group called La Punalada, after the cafe group members would go to. Other members of La Punalada include famous painters Antoni Tapies and Jordi Aluma. It was also in Spain that the young Federico Aguilar started using the Spanish custom of including the mother’s maiden name, and signed his works Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.

Recognized by many local and international award-giving bodies, the artist has won first prize at the Premio Moncada in 1957; the 1958 Prix Francisco Goya in Barcelona; first prize at the Pintura Sant Pol del Mar in 1961; second prize at the Premio Vancell at the Fourth Biennial of Tarrasa in Barcelona in 1964; awarded the Diploma of Honor at the International Exhibition of Art Libre in 1961; received the decoration of Arts, Letters and Sciences award from the French government in 1964; the Order of French Genius in 1964; awarded by the Philippine government with the Presidential Medal of Merit award for his outstanding accomplishments in visual arts in 2007; and in 2009, he was unanimously adjudged National Artist Nominee by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) after a three year selection process.

Alcuaz’s works are included in the collection of some 20 museums and major cultural institutions in the world today including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid, the Gulvenkian Foundation Museum of London, the Museum of Modern Art of Warsaw, the Musem of Modern Art of Krakow, and the Philips Cultural Museum of the Netherlands.

“Essential Abstracts: National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz” will open on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

For more details, please call (63 2) 723-9418 or email at

Galerie Joaquin is located at 371 P. Guevarra St., cor. Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

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