Slovakia’s Communist Past with Maria Svarbova

Maria Svarbova breathes new life into Slovakia’s Communist era architecture and public spaces by adding a much need pop of colour. 

“My photographs are a succession of short scenes in which the frontality and absence of contrasts removes any narrative dimension in favour of the fullness of the photographic surface,” says Slovakian artist Maria Svarbova of her work.

Maria Svarbova

Her distinctive style departs from traditional portraiture and focuses on experimentation with space, colour and atmosphere. Taking an interest in Communist era architecture and public spaces, Svarbova transforms each scene with a modern freshness that highlights the depth and range of her creative palette, breathing new life into the demure architecture left over from this period.  

The human body throughout her oeuvre is more or less a peripheral afterthought, often portrayed as aloof and demure rather than substantive. Carefully composed figures create thematic, dream-like scenes with ordinary objects. Her images hold a silent tension that hint at emergent possibilities under the lilt of clean and smooth surfaces.

“The use of retouching software allows me to master this careful and stringent aesthetic with extreme precision, attenuating differences as though all individuals were the same, losing all of their individuality and identity,” adds Svarbova.

Maria SvarbovaMaria Svarbova

There is often a sense of cool detachment and liminality in her work. Routine actions such as exercise, doctor appointments, and domestic tasks are reframed with a visual purity that is soothing and symmetrical and at times reverberant with an ethereal stillness. The overall effect evokes a contemplative silence in an extended moment of promise and awareness – a quality difficult to achieve in the rapid pace of modern life.

Svarbova’s postmodern vision boldly articulates a dialog that compels the viewer to respond to the mystery, loneliness, and isolation of the human experience. Nevertheless, deeply embedded within the aqueous pastels, Svarbova’s compositions hold to a celebratory elegance that transforms the viewer’s gaze into an enduring reverence for life’s simple beauty.

Maria Svarbova Maria Svarbova

Words by Moe Topping – For more of Maria Svarbova’s photography, click here. Discover other articles about Art & Design here.

No more articles