In Slovak photographer Maria Svarbova’s works, swimmers prepare to enter a pool, play in the water, wait on the edge of a start’s block or sit on a poolside bench. Her photos of bathers in colourful swimming caps in Soviet-era swim centres have sparked interest across the worlds of art and fashion.
Svarbova’s work has appeared in magazines and newspaper inserts including El País, The Guardian, Vogue Italia, Harper’s Bazaar, Forbes and Cosmopolitan, among others. Her compositions leverage symmetry to explore the human body and feelings such as melancholy and absence. Despite studying restoration and archaeology, she chose photography as her means of artistic expression in 2010 and has since strived to create images in public spaces where she portrays leisure time in a pool.
A pastel palette and minimalism are two of Svarbova’s big passions. She is also drawn to fashion and chooses the swimwear, which she often finds in markets close to the municipal pools where the photo sessions are held, with care.
Maria Svarbova uses photo retouching programmes that make all her characters look the same and hauntingly still while they observe their reflection in the water. Her oeuvre has numerous followers on social networks – in fact, Instagram is one of the platforms she uses to promote her images, in which it looks like time has stopped just before getting into a pool.
Her singular take on the simplicity of life saw her win first prize in the category of conceptual and advertising photography at The International Photography Awards, an event aimed at promoting top photographers and emerging new talents.