In her vivid and joyful artworks, the painter represents a moment of calm – a place where time is frozen, and the swaying trees are caught in a sun-drenched freeze frame.
It's unsurprising to learn that Samaná-based Hulda Guzmán is most interested in painting tropical landscapes. Born into a family of Dominican artists, she's long transferred her surroundings into juicy depictions of foliage and flora. "I feel inspired by all the lush and beautiful vegetation of my native island, by the infinite arrays of colour, light, texture and shapes within the natural world," she explains. "I find a lot of comfort in the meditative process of contemplating nature, and so I am constantly compelled to paint landscapes, trees and animals."
In her first solo show in the UK at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Hulda's connection to nature is brought to the fore in a series of dreamy works. Casting an array of imaginary creatures, people and animals, Hulda sends her audience on a journey through nature – it's a celebration of her familial home. It was also the first time she'd painted in her new studio, a bungalow designed by her architect dad Eddy located in a secluded area on the northeast side of the island named Hispaniola. "I had been very anxious to finish its construction because I mostly like to paint by observing real life instead of using a photograph as reference," she says. It's because it evokes a sense of intimacy between the observer and subject, something that cannot be achieved through the 2D realisation.
"We've all witnessed the wind dancing between the trees, and heard its subtle, surrendered sound, smelled its natural, healing aroma, and felt its power to anchor us," she says. "We know there's something underneath what we perceive through our sense, an essence that encompasses all living creatures in a general symbiosis, which appears very much like a dance."
In Dancing cocks, Hulda wanted to capture the landscape as it changed throughout the day. Freezing time into a singular image is no simple task or one that's comprehensible. Yet Hulda has done so with ease as she paints the changeable weather, the trees moving and swaying. "I think that painting live motion allows for a more visceral and connected approach," she adds. "I then added the characters to emphasise with a literal translation the dance of nature."
"On the other hand, I was inspired by the roosters who'd visit my bungalow every morning and strut their stuff for the chickens." Other works, like Everybody Loves The Sunshine, incorporate similar techniques as she paints the early morning sunshine beaming onto the mountains. "The animals congregate to enjoy the spectacle, their bodies facing the shadow, but their attention turned to the spectator or the painter or the observer in the scene, uniting all as one."
Hulda's series – and work in general – proves just how influential your surroundings can be when making a piece of art. She's refined her perspective on nature to be joyful, timeless and colourful. And there's currently no stopping her for the time being. "I'm just going to keep on painting and try to find more and more bliss through my work."