||A MAJOR CELEBRATION OF AGUILAR-ALCUAZ WORKS
The word master has its origins in the Old English word meister by way of the Latin word for large: magister. Within this context, society has often attached the word to visual artists prolific enough not only to earn the respect of his peers, but to achieve respect from relevant institutional stakeholders: from galleries, museums, and collectors to the distinguished people of the academe. In rare instances, the State enters the discourse by giving recognition in the form of membership in orders, and in this country the cream of the institutional heavyweights is given the title National Artist.
Into this dialog we consider National Artist-elect Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (1932-2011), is an embodiment of the pinnacle of mainstream artistic achievement as to earn that coveted appendage to his name. A towering figure in any conversation about Philippine art, the artist’s death earlier this year calls for a closer examination of his oeuvre and that an exhibit-celebration in his honor be arranged. It is in this context that the Araneta Center, in cooperation with Galerie Joaquin, will be launching “Celebrating Aguilar Alcuaz” which opens on August 8, 6:30 in the evening, at the Sapphire Ballroom of the Gateway Suites in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, and runs until August 14, 2011. For more information, call Galerie Joaquin at +63 (2) 723-9418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At once a perplexing character whose personality and persuasions lead to many interests on his process, his technique, his worldviews, his talent is undoubted. Taking a lifelong love affair with music and instilling his paintings with a quality akin to compositions and melodies, it behoves one to use a conductor’s parlance in any attempt to grasp his works.
Virtuoso, says late art critic Dr. Rod. Paras-Perez in his 2005 book on Aguilar Alcuaz entitled “Parallel Texts”. “Definitely a virtuoso...painter...like a music artist—he actually goes through a limbering process or what he calls practice—by painting a nude or a composition, before doing a portrait.”
Aguilar Alcuaz is a lawyer who he spent the better part of his life on sojourns in and around Europe. He is remembered by his collectors and aficionados for his striking portraits, expressionistic abstract still lifes and landscapes, or his experiments with media such as ceramics and textile, as he is equally remembered for his child-like pranks and practical jokes.
The retrospective mulls these questions; displaying works culled from a combination of private collectors and the late National Artist-elect families’ own collection, under the guidance of eldest son Christian Aguilar and curated by Duffie Hufana Osental, the exhibition gives the audience a chance to appreciate a giant in Philippine modernism. Without a doubt one of the art events of the year, the show promises to be a wonderful and telling look into the mind of a National Artist.
The sixth of eleven children of Mariano Aguilar and Encarnacion Alcuaz, He took up Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines from 1948-1950. Among his professors at the UP were National Artist Fernando Amorsolo (painting) and National Artist Guillermo Tolentino (sculpture) He studied law at the Ateneo de Manila University and finished his degree in 1955. Thereafter, he decided to pursue art on a full time basis. In 1955, 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.
Recognized by many local and international award-giving bodies, the artist has won first prize at the 1953 UP Art Competition; first prize at the 1954 Annual Shell Art Competition and second place at the UP Art Competition also in 1954; 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 Museum of Modern Art of Krakow, and the Philips Cultural Museum of the Netherlands.