Federico Aguilar Alcuaz was conferred the Order of National Artist of the Philippines in 2009. From 1949-1950 he took up painting at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts. At the same time he studied law, completing and finishing his law degree in 1955. Upon the recommendation of painter and art patron Fernando Zóbel, 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 counts among its alumni 19th century Filipino master painters such as Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo and 20th century Spanish modernists such as
Picasso and Dalí.
In 1956 Alcuaz set up a studio in Barcelona which he maintained for forty years. He became part of La Puñalada, an informal group that included the Catalan artists Tàpies, Tharrats, Cuixart, Aragones, and Aluma among others. They were the exponents of 'neofigurativism' and were the forerunners of modern and contemporary art in Spain. La Puñalada was the name of a cafe in Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, where they socialized, and the term (which means: the stab) refers to the art of Andalusian knife-fighting, which has many parallels with flamenco dancing. The visual artists of La Puñalada idealised this purity of energy and passion, and Alcuaz had been observed to wield his brush as if it were a fencing foil.
Alcuaz's Barcelona period was heavily influenced by medieval Catalan frescoes with the utilization of primary colours as the base, heavy outlines in black, and with the treatment of space as a flat surface as opposed to the creation of depth using an image. There was no strict adherence to proportional scale, and forms could be of different sizes creating a sense of juxtaposition by mapping an overly large central image against secondary motifs and using geometric delineation and shapes – all of which are clearly evident in the present lot. His strokes express a dynamism and energy, reflecting what Alcuaz absorbed from the milieu around him as he travelled through Barcelona and the rest of Europe.