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Federico Aguilar Alcuaz’s Art Protis

Hanging in the historic primed walls of the National Museum of Fine Arts are twenty of the most beautiful art textile works by National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, one of the renowned household names in the art world for his diverse talents in visual arts, painting, sculpture and mixed media.

Among Aguilar Alcuaz’s prized art are his rendered abstract unwoven tapestries. He made use of a unique technique of creating unwoven art works which was invented in the 1960s by a team from the Wool Research Institute in Brno, the second biggest city of the Czech Republic. Aguilar Alcuaz learned the patented process where fleece wool is stitched by a machine onto a fabric backing after being layered by an artist. The technique was aimed originally for apparel fabric production but was soon used mainly for creating distinct artworks, and was suitably named Art Protis.

The exhibition in National Museum Manila is open untill 25 May 2018.

Art Protis was artistically developed by famous Czech artists Jiří Trnka, known for his illustrations and animations, and Antonín Kybal, known for producing textiles to appease the stylistic demands of modernist architecture since the late 1920s. Kybal merged his background in painting with a deep knowledge of textile production and handcraft, and became the single most important promoter of Art Protis locally and abroad. The works he created with the Art Protis technique were prominent in the parts of Czechoslovak pavilions at World exhibitions, where they were awarded gold medals, both at EXPO ‘67 in Montreal and EXPO ‘70 in Osaka, and were eventually recognized by the art world.

Aguilar Alcuaz was a wide-eyed wanderer of the globalizing art world even back then. After finishing his studies, he stayed on to live and familiarized himself with the art and culture of Europe where he became colleagues with other Filipino expatriates and was able to work with world-class talent. He visited Prague in 1968 where his interest was immediately caught by the Art Protis. In Brno where Alcuaz mostly traveled for months, the one of a kind collage technique was introduced to him in the premises of Vlněna textile company, where the special stitching machine was located. By then, Aguilar Alcuaz fell in love not only with the art but with the city as well. His steadfast work for two decades was celebrated during his fortieth birthday hosted by the Vice Mayor of Brno. His works were highly favored not only for its refinement and European flair but his ease and pleasure in conveying “uncluttered playfulness” with constant fluidity.

The National Museum of Fine Arts exhibition presents works from the GSIS collection, which were conceived, designed and executed by Aguilar Alcuaz in Brno. In this set of Art Protis, he made art in an unconventional manner, creating nonwoven tapestries by first preparing wool which comes in raw sheets dyed in different colors. The prepared wool is then cut to pieces and placed on top of one another like a collage. The finished layers were then pressed through a machine and stitched together on to a canvas. His audacious view of art making, resulting in expressing his perspectives on reevaluating art, continues to be admired by his peers and followers. With Art Protis, Aguilar Alcuaz mastered creating a painterly abstraction with an uncommon medium.