Alfonso Meléndez Arana was a Puerto Rican painter born in New York City. When he was young, the family moved to San Sebastián, Puerto Rico, where he spent his youth. Arana made his first drawing at the age of six, and presented it to his mother. His father, however, did not want his son to become an artist, causing a conflict between father and son.
Arana studied art at various schools, including the Atelier de Jose Bardasano, in Mexico, the Manhattan School of Arts in New York, the Académie Julian, and L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris. He also did post-graduate work at the American University in Washington, D.C..
Arana became known for his peculiar style of hollow eyes in a face lacking a skull and with a slightly oversized body. His characteristic use of light is also well-known, as well as his very light, almost transparent colors. Arana himself defines his style as expressionism and mannerism. He has explained that his alive and expressive human figures are empty inside because "they are receptacles of the active things in the world as is God, nature, life, whatever we want."
Arana has exhibited his work in Tokyo, Paris, New York, Mexico City, Puerto Rico, and Spain. He established the Fundación Francisco Arana in 1986, as a means to foster art in young people. Once a year, this organization presents an outstanding art student with a scholarship to live and study in Paris. Arana suffered Parkinson's disease during his final years, and died as a result in 2005, at his house in Paris.