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FEDERICO AGUILAR ALCUAZ / dit: AGUILAR (Philippines, Manila, Santa Cruz b. 1932 / act: Spain)

Aguilar Federico Alcuaz Aguilar was born on 6 June 1932 in Santa Cruz of Manila City, Philippines, Federico was the sixth of eleven children of Mariano Aguilar a Lawyer and a Musician and Encarnacion Aguilar. He finished early schooling at the Dr. Albert Elementary School and San Beda High School. He studied law at the Ateneo de Manila and finished his degree in 1955. In 1949-1950 he took up painting subjects at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts. Among his professors at UP were National Artist Fernando Amorsolo (painting) and National Artist Guillermo Tolentino (sculpture) as well as other pillars of Philippine art, such as Toribio Herrera, Ireneo Miranda and Constancio Bernardo. In 1955 he went to Madrid with a scholarship at the Academia de San Fernando which was granted to him through the help of the Jesuits at Ateneo. In 1956 he chose Barcelona as his career base. He also became a member of the La Punalada Group which counted among its members Tapies, Cuixart and Tharrats. In the same year he began signing his paintings with Aguilar Aguilar to distinguish himself from two other Aguilars who are also members of the La Punalada Group. In 1959 he met Ute Schmitz, a German girl from Hamburg, who he married three years later, they have three sons: Christian, Andreas and Matthias.

After his undergraduate courses, he took up studies in law at the Ateneo de Manila University where he graduated with a Diploma in Law in 1955. Thereafter, he decided to pursue art on a full time basis. Proving himself worthy of his chosen career, Aguilar has since won awards for his works, such as winning 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.

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, but he later moved to Barcelona. In Spain, Aguilar received several awards including winning first prize at the Premio Moncada in 1957, the 1958 Prix Francisco Goya in Bracelona, first prize at the Pintura Sant Pol del Mar in 1961 and second prize at the Premio Vancell at the Fourth Biennial of Tarrasa in Barcelona in 1964.

Recognition for his art extended beyond the Spanish borders. In Paris, he was awarded the Diploma of Honor at the International Exhibition of Art Libre in 1961, the decoration of Arts, Letters and Sciences award from the French government 1964 and the Order of French Genius in 1964. In 2007, he was acknowledged by the Philippine government with the Presidential Medal of Merit award for his outstanding accomplishments in visual arts.

Aguilar'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. In his 55 year career Federico Aguilar Aguilar has exhibited in leading galleries in Spain, the Philippines, Portugal, Poland, the United States and Germany.

His recent exhibit Federico Alcuaz Aguilar (07/12/2007), the first anniversary show of Galerie Joaquin Singapore, showcased rare pieces from the artist's early works including 10 oil on canvas works and 10 of mixed media or watercolor. The artworks were sourced from collectors in Europe and the Aguilar family collection, these being some of the best from the artist's oeuvre. Several of them cover the period from the mid 60's to the late 70's, the period when some of the most exciting Aguilar works were produced.

The show was made more timely with the recent record prices fetched by Aguilar pieces in the September 2007 Sotheby's auction in Singapore and, most recently, the November 25, 2007 Christie's auction in Hong Kong. Aguilar's Tres Marias sold at HK$ 271,000 (PHP 1,490,000), 9 times above the minimum estimate while Still Life with Landscape sold at HK$ 112,500 (PHP 618,750), which is at 5 times its minimum estimate.

Several Aguilar paintings were featured in the definitive book on Aguilar, Parallel Texts by Rod Paras Perez, which included rare watercolor pieces Manila and Manila II (1968) and other paintings on Wiesbaden, Germany.

Recipient of several first prizes here and abroad. First one-man show in 1963 and nearly twenty others since here and in foreign cities in Europe and America. Distinctions include the 1963 Republic Cultural Heritage Award. International Shows at the Madrid Museum of Contemporary Art, Galeria Layetanas, Galeria Duntel, Protesen Prague, Winchell and Vermeer in NY, Grayson in Chicago, Philips Cultural Center in Holland - among others. European Awards (among others) Pintura Saint Pol del Mar, Prix Vincell, Montcada, Order of the French Genius. Several awards in RP, notably the Republic Cultural Heritage Award. RP shows at the CCP, Malacanang under Imelda Marcos' patronage and in most of the prestigious Manila Galleries. Aguilar is the most highly prized artist in the Philippines.

[Megakles 01/2008]

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