Photographer Profile | Mária Švarbová


Photographer and Artistic Director Mária Švarbová was born in Zlanté Moravce, Slovakia, in 1988 (one year before the Velvet Revolution, marking the fall of the communist regime).

Mária and her Eastern European contemporaries experienced the transition of regimes. That is, despite not having lived in communist Czechoslovakia, the remnants of the historical period surrounded their upbringing. For Mária however, the remains of communism do not carry political undertones, but rather awaken pleasant memories of her childhood and loving family. This nostalgia is seen in her art which, while expressing a quiet melancholy, inspires hope and happiness with pops of color and good humor.

In fact, alongside Švarbová's work the last few years have marked the uprise of an entirely novel and wildly successful school of art and imagery, namely Post-Soviet fashion.

Photo:  Marek Wurfl

This new generation of designers, much like Mária, take inspiration from the past of the Eastern Bloc inspiring contemporary art and couture. Most of these now celebrated creatives from the former Soviet Union [and satellite states], such as Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, are in their late 20s to early 30s. For them, as was for Mária, the Soviet republics are a half-mythical past, of which they attempt to make sense thought art and fashion.

Ex-editor of British Vogue Alexandra Shulman describes Post-Soviet fashion in an interview at the UAL:

"The fashion industry is definitely on a wave of realism that slightly mimics what happened when I first came to Vogue, which was when grunge happened. Theres a feeling of looking for […] authenticity. I’m interested in the whole Soviet style, kind of 30s, Eastern European appeal that’s going on. I think there are lots of ideas […] that people are exploring and I have a gut feeling that […] what’s happening now with Brexit and everything will throw up - both in fashion and the arts in general - some quite interesting creativity. Because there are a lot of questions that people are asking and that’s often a time when in fact you get the most exciting new things coming up."

In 2014 Mária's Swimming Pool motif, for which she is best known, was serendipitously born. Since, the photographer has created captivating images across various Slovak swimming pools, arousing international adornment. More recently Švarbová was awarded the 2018 Hasselblad Master and featured in Forbes Slovakia's 30 under 30.

Alongside the BennyBee 2018 web launch campaign, Mária has taken on many wonderful commissioned projects including Taiwanese singer Hebe Tien's Day To Day Album and Ader Error. Her work has also served as inspiration for couture brand Delpozo's latest collection featured in 2017 New York Fashion Week. We are so excited to see what the future holds for Mária Švarbová!