Born in June 6, 1932 in Manila City, Federico was the sixth of eleven children and took his primary and secondary education at public schools. He pursued Associate of Arts degree at San Beda College in the evenings and a Fine Arts degree at the University of the Philippines (UP) in the mornings. 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.
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, Alcuaz 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, Alcuaz 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.
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. In his 55 year career Federico Aguilar Alcuaz has exhibited in leading galleries in Spain, the Philippines, Portugal, Poland, the United States and Germany.
His recent exhibit “Federico Aguilar Alcuaz” (Dec. 7, 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 Alcuaz 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 Alcuaz works were produced.
The show was made more timely with the recent record prices fetched by Alcuaz pieces in the September 2007 Sotheby’s auction in Singapore and, most recently, the November 25, 2007 Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. Alcuaz’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 Alcuaz paintings were featured in the definitive book on Alcuaz, “Parallel Texts” by Rod Paras Perez, which included rare watercolor pieces “Manila 1968” and “Manila 1968 II” and other paintings on Wiesbaden, Germany.