Exploring the Freeway x Federico Aguilar Alcuaz collection
Cubism – the artistic movement that multi-faceted National Artist conferee Federico Aguilar Alcuaz is well known for – simultaneously portrays multiple points of view.
Imagine if cubists took a paper box and flattened it so one can see all the dimensions at once – hence the seemingly strange portraits where both eyes appear on one side of the face, much like a flat fish, like halibut or flounder.
Simply put, cubism is a different way of seeing things. So imagine a cubist's delight if his work could be draped upon the human body, his once flat canvas becoming a three dimensional garment that constantly presents a different facet of his work with every undulation of the fabric and every shift in pose.
It’s in this spirit that these designs, through the work of Alcuaz, are now being seen on the racks at Freeway, a popular local retail brand.
Since 2009, Freeway has earned not only the respect of fashion mavens but also the trust of National Artists and their estates with its National Artist Collectors’ Series – tasteful interpretations of the works of their into fashion items .
Previously featured artists include Nick Joaquin, Ang Kiukok, Jose Garcia-Villa, Ramon Valera, F. Sionil Jose, Vicente Manansala, Levi Celerio, Botong Francisco, Lucio San Pedro, Juan Luna, Bienvenido Lumbera and, now, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.
While designs for National Artists for literature, music, and architecture involve witty and elegant interpretations that evoke the National Artists' creative genius in their respective fields, those of visual artists such as Alcuaz lend themselves more readily to fashion.
Sheree Roxas-Chua Gotuaco, chief executive officer of Elite Garments International – the parent company of Freeway, Ensembles, 22BC, Solo, and Arte Filipino fashion brands – explains that they use dye sublimation printing on acrylic-based fabrics to produce lasting full color photographic quality prints without any heavy buildup. This preserves the consistency of the fabric. The technology works equally well for gossamer and translucent shawls, lustrous and silky dresses, and viscous and form-fitting blouses.
Alcuaz's paintings – cubist or otherwise – with their bold strokes and colors, work gorgeously for Freeway's blouses , dresses, shawls, and bags when paired with plain or stripped leggings and skirts of cobalt, vermillion, fuchsia, black or whatever predominant color his printed paintings may possess. Alcuaz would have approved. His family and estate definitely do so.
Heirs to a illustrious name
Alcuaz, who died February 2, 2011 at age 78, left behind 3 children with his spouse Ute Schmitz, and a veritable autobiography in painting, tapestries, sculptures and photos – clues to his character and temperament.
Christian Aguilar, instructor for crafts and heritage conservation at Escuela Taller in Intramuros, art restorer for the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Baptistry Chapel of Sta Ana Church, and Alcuaz's firstborn son; Coco Alcuaz, television business news anchor and Alcuaz's nephew; and Cid Reyes, noted art critic; all opine that the esteemed artist would have been delighted at being celebrated by Freeway's National Artist Collectors’ Series.
The panel discussion and fashion launch was aptly held at The CrownPlas Museum, which houses the extensive collection of Alcuaz works. Owned by Eddie and Norma Chua of Crown Plastics, the CrownPlas Museum is a private collection in a 4-storey building that houses many of Alcuaz's huge panoramic paintings, tapestry works, portraits, sketches, diplomas, as well as the Chua's collection of commissioned portraits and collections of Llandro porcelain, Swarovski glass, and buddha figurines.
Quite a number of Alcuaz's works had personal dedications to Chua, who was a dear friend of the late artist. For his part, Christian gave intimate insight into his father's works. He notes the historical contexts for several of his paintings, which included the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Manila.
At the opening of Freeway's Alcuaz collection, the TV anchor moderated a panel discussion with Christian and Reyes.
“I believe my father would, at first, when he enter the room, he would lift an eyebrow and start wondering what all these fuss is about. At the end he would just say okay, go on, if you’re happy with that, so be it, no questions, that’s how my father would see it. In the end, he would, with one eye, at least enjoy it,” opines Christian.
“You could imagine the struggle, the hardships, the difficulties that they have to go through to get even an inch of recognition especially abroad for a Filipino, to be finally given the recognition that he rightly deserved , I think that will make many artists will feel proud, that is an accomplishment. So I think after Mr Alcuaz has been given a shirt that fits him I think he will be very very delighted,” Reyes says. – Rappler.com
Writer, graphic designer, and business owner Rome Jorge is passionate about the arts. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of asianTraveler Magazine, Lifestyle Editor of The Manila Times, and cover story writer for MEGA and Lifestyle Asia Magazines, Rome Jorge has also covered terror attacks, military mutinies, mass demonstrations as well as Reproductive Health, gender equality, climate change, HIV/AIDS and other important issues. He is also the proprietor of Strawberry Jams Music Studio.