Arecales Umbra Femina 4/10


  • From a limited edition of 10 archival photographs
  • Signed and numbered by artist A K Nicholas
  • Image: 20×30 inches/51×76 cm
  • Paper: 22×32 inches/56×81 cm




The spiky shadows of palm fronds clothe most of the figure of a woman in shade. The black and white body pattern draws the eye before the subtler shades, giving simultaneous feelings of a nude female body both revealed and concealed. This veiled eroticism is for the cultivated eye, but not the timid. Black and white nude photography has a long tradition of using shadows to accentuate or obscure the shapes of the body. The use of this black and white body pattern seeks both objectives. An exposed arm and thigh lead the eye into the camouflaged figure. The striped pattern wrapping torso is reminiscent of animal markings such as a zebra or tiger. The center of the body bears a shadow pattern that echoes the vertebrae of a spine, approximately bisecting the figure. The shapes, lines, and textures tell a story of contrast.

The body is horizontal, approximately through the center of the composition. Square stone tiles form grid lines, framed by diagonal patches of darkness in the corners. The shadows in the upper corners imply a triangle with the shadow that runs through the body serving as the third side. The bottom border of shadows runs more or less horizontally, repeating the direction of the body.

The black and white pattern draws the viewer’s attention to the abstract composition. Heavy shadow defines her right side and thigh. Her face is obscured, as is much of her body, making her somewhat anonymous. The pattern of shadow across her body disrupts half of her contours.

Close to monochromatic, the image is not pure black and white. Subtle cool tones of purple punctuate the shadows and warmer accents are in the highlights. Although color may be able to seduce a wider audience, the lover of black and white nude photography has an appreciation that runs deep.

Photographed on Harbour Island, The Bahamas.

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