Alexander Berggruen presents artist Hulda Guzmán's work in 'They Come from the Water'

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Alexander Berggruen presents artist Hulda Guzmán's work in 'They Come from the Water'
Hulda Guzmán, La rotonda, 2023. Acrylic gouache on linen, 45 x 45 in. (114.3 x 114.3 cm.).

NEW YORK, NY.- Alexander Berggruen is opening Hulda Guzmán: They come from water. This exhibition opens Wednesday, May 24, 2023 with a 5-7 pm reception at the gallery (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3, New York, NY).

Water may be a body, lingering in the distance defining the horizon like a belt. Water may be the source of life for the flora and fauna that animate Hulda Guzmán’s paintings. Water is a precious resource, a fact that is elevated by the state of Guzmán’s lifelong home of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, an area in danger of more severe droughts from climate change. Guided by her pursuit of interconnection with the biotic forces around her, Guzmán summons water as a symbol for life and as a vessel for magic to enter her paintings. Her neighboring natural scenery, her affectionate animals, her soulful friends and family, the artist herself, and her paintings: They come from water. This exhibition’s title refers not only directly to Guzmán’s process of mixing acrylic gouache with water, but it also acknowledges a mystical fluidity that pervades the artist’s work.

In this body of work, Guzmán strove to allow herself to let go: to succumb to the whims of the landscape and the flow of her richly pigmented, watery paint, reflecting a departure from some of her previous meticulous delineations. Surrendering control to water’s slippery qualities and enabling ease within the challenge of painting, Guzmán makes space for emergent mysterious beings, spontaneously seeping hallucinatory colors, sprouted extra limbs, and figures that blend into the environment. Above all else, this holds space for her flourishing environment and her contagious search for joy. In the same vein as the Impressionist painters she admires—including Camille Pissarro, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin—the artist stated: “The enjoyment of the process of painting from Nature” is what drives her to create.

This show features a charming cast of babies, the artist’s pet cats, her family, the island’s plant life, and its wildlife. Yet, Guzmán is not merely opening her heart to these inspiring symbiotic subjects who populate her paintings; she is rejoicing in the act of painting. The heart of Guzmán’s work is in her compositions of electrifying colors; the rhythms of the recursive patterns; her variance of dry, wet, and drenched brushstrokes; and the moments where the faithful resemblance of reality is lost, disorienting a viewer in wonder. Situated between Impressionistic landscape, psychological autobiography, Mexican muralism, Caribbean folk traditions, endearing comedy, and magical realism, Guzmán’s work engenders an emphatic compassion for the united forces of the living. In speaking about how perception of an object is affected by its surroundings, Guzmán stated: “I’ve been remembering this concept constantly and practicing it, because this interrelationship of all things ‘all at once’ is, I feel, where the magic lies: in the communion of all parts, in ubiquitous awareness, loving everyone and everything.”

In light of the artist's veneration of tropical forests and environmental stewardship, a donation to land conservation—to the artist-run non-profit Art into Acres through the A Cool Million initiative founded by Micki Meng and Haley Mellin—is being made by the artist and the gallery on the occasion of this exhibition. -Press Release by Kirsten Cave

This exhibition follows the artist's first solo show with the gallery Hulda Guzmán: my flora, my fauna (October 23-December 19, 2020) and her inclusion in the gallery's group show Katherine Bradford, Hulda Guzmán, Rebecca Ness (December 11, 2019-January 29, 2020) and presentation at FOG Design+Art, San Francisco, CA (January 19-23, 2022). Alexander Berggruen co-represents the artist with Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Hulda Guzmán (b. 1984, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) received a BA from Altos de Chavón School of Design in the Dominican Republic and went on to study photography and mural painting at the National School of Visual Arts, Mexico. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; Dallas Museum of Art, TX; Denver Art Museum, CO; He Art Museum (HEM), Guangdong, CN; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), CA; Museu de Arte de Săo Paulo (MASP), Săo Paulo, Brazil; Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), CA, among others. Guzmán has been featured in the Dominican Republic’s pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Guzmán has shown with Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK; Alexander Berggruen, NY; Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA; Dio Horia Gallery, Mykonos; Arte BA, Buenos Aires; Galería Machete, Mexico City; Gallery Ariane Paffrath Dusseldorf; and at institutions such as the Denver Art Museum, CO; Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo; the Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL; Museo de Arte de Săo Paulo, Brazil; Museo de Arte y Diseńo Contemporáneo, Costa Rica; and Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC. The artist lives and works in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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