SWIMMING POOLS OF ANOTHER ERA
2018 Hasselblad Master in Art and 2019 Hasselblad Heroine Maria Svarbova is widely recognised for her captivating Swimming Pool series, usually photographed in Socialist era lap pools around her home country of Slovakia. After being selected as a Hasselblad Master and switching to shooting with the X System, Maria tells us about how it has dramatically affected creating her dream-like compositions.
What does the X System do for your work?
I have to say I love the X System so much. The X1D II and X1D-50c are serious pieces of photographic equipment. At this moment I use the Hasselblad X1D II 50C and I have to say it produces very clear images throughout its ISO sensitivity scale, which helps resolve very fine details. In my photography I often work with a lot of details in the small bodies of swimmers, for example, so it is very important for me. I can get fantastic medium format image quality in a sleek, superbly designed body that's lightweight and portable.
How does photographing with Hasselblad affect the way you create images?
Definitely shooting with Hasselblad changed the quality of my artwork and the way I take pictures. I remember taking much more unnecessary material before and now I really only take what I actually need.
It's amazing what material comes from Hasselblad and its really huge files. I can feel the ”air” in Hasselblad photos – that's what I call it. That is, as a viewer, I can really be part of the picture. A few people during my exhibition have asked me, "Where and how did you print these photos? They are so alive." I said, "I know what you mean! That's Hasseblad!" In my opinion it's because Hasselblad can capture a lot of light and shadow data in an image.
How would you describe elements of your style?
My scenes sometimes feel as if one is frozen in the surrounding silence. I find vast inspiration in modern architecture. I’m infatuated with minimalism and its perfectly clean, straight lines. In my work, I engage with the geometry of the space, which in turn helps me to create my signature, cinematic scenes.
Where does your inspiration come from for your swimming pool imagery?
Swimming Pool is like a fictitious document. When selecting swimming pools for this series, I look specifically at the functionalism elements and color of the space. I am fascinated by architecture and white tiles and the calmness of water. It is like a mirror to the other side of the world. I think I’ve visited more than 15 different pools in Slovakia and I have a book called Swimming Pool where you can find more information about this concept.
ABOUT MARIA SVARBOVA
Slovakian artist Maria Svarbova started her photographic career in 2010, and since then her work has been featured in various publications worldwide, including Vogue, Forbes, and The Guardian. Maria’s distinctive style departs from traditional portraiture and focuses on experimentation with space, colour, and atmosphere. Taking an interest in Socialist era architecture and public spaces, Maria transforms each scene with a modern freshness that highlights the depth and range of her creative palette. Carefully composed figures create thematic, dream-like scenes with ordinary objects. Her compositions hold to a celebratory elegance that transforms the viewer’s gaze into an enduring reverence for life’s simple beauty. See more of her work here.
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