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Hulda Guzman - Celebrating Creativity

By Geoff Harrison

For me, one of the highlights of the recent Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria was the painting “Daily Ceremony, 2022” produced by Hulda Guzman, an artist of the Dominican Republic. It’s one of the most inventive self-portraits I’ve seen in recent times and includes her pet rooster and prancing cats. In the NGV magazine, she describes the work as an autobiographical narrative, depicting a ritualistic summoning of creative energy.

The setting is a new studio she designed with her father in a very remote area in the Dominican Republic where her nearest neighbour is at least 2 kilometres away. She claims to have been inspired by the themes and ideas of the surrealists, but she does not reference dreams and other states of consciousness in her work. Instead, she is more interested in the “hidden parts of ourselves - all those energies that come into play, the things that are not perceivable to our senses, such as our fears and demons that we try to repress.”

'Daily Ceremony' 2022, Hulda Guzman, synthetic polymer paint and gouche on cedar & mahogany, 140.6 x 122 cm (NGV)

The triangles of light, the prancing cats and the symmetry are intended to invoke the cheerfulness, buoyancy, high vibration and celebration of creative energy and the uplifting energies of nature and consciousness.


Guzman tells us that the dance session becomes a meditative practice to seek peace and to channel the inspiring Taino spirit, which appears as an outline in the triangle of light.  This spirit is a central concept in art and ritual to the Caribbean peoples and was thought to inhabit trees, stones and other aspects of the landscape.

She also explains the importance of being in the right headspace when producing her work. “When I’m painting and experiencing positive vibrations, I believe these vibrations transfer into the painting and the viewer afterwards.” The feedback she gets from viewers of her work corresponds to how she feels when painting. “It’s a beautiful thing, and it makes me relate to people that way. I would never want to transfer any negative emotions, so I always make sure I’m in the right headspace when I paint.”

When I think of the headspace I often find myself in when painting, it’s a wonder I can produce anything at all, let alone be able to mount exhibitions and sell my work. But this article and Guzman’s work give me cause for thought and to perhaps be more appreciative of the creative spirit that, I believe, lurks within all of us.

Hulda Guzman’s paintings often depict tropical settings and naturalistic motifs. She has two sisters, one a sculptor and the other a filmmaker. “Daily Ceremony 2022” has been purchased by the NGV.


The year 2024 is fast becoming the year of the female artist, judging by what I’ve seen so far. At Geelong Gallery there is an enormous print exhibition staged by Dianne Fogwell. It consists of 56 hand-printed panels featuring linocuts, woodcuts, burn drawings and pigmented ink on paper. It runs until July 28.

Dianne Fogwell at Geelong Gallery (Geoff Harrison)

At Niagara Gallery in Melbourne recently, there was the exhibition “Lifting The Veil” consisting of paintings by Julia Ciccarone, one of my favourite local artists.

Julia Ciccarone, "Second Sight", 2023 oil on linen, 101.5 x 122 cm (Niagara Galleries)

And recently at Australian Galleries in Collingwood there was an exhibition of paintings, drawings and ceramics by Mary Tonkin titled “Both Sides Now”.

Mary Tonkin, "Coprosma Madonna, Kalorama", 2021-22, oil on linen, 320 x 610 cm (Australian Galleries)

References: NGV Magazine

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1 Comment

thanks for the review! I enjoyed this piece as well but did not read all the blurb at the gallery (I wish I could recall the fancy word for blurb!). Artist statements often seem deliberately obscure in order to belittle the reader.

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