Devil’s Key


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



A solitary woman strolls on a tranquil beach. A small key sits within swimming distance. Her gaze reveals a mind occupied with mystery and enigmatic intentions. A mask of cloud cover restrains the golden fire of the descending sun, just out of the picture, as it reflects on the delicate black pearl waves and the limbs of her body. This outdoor nude photograph was created at North Eleuthera, the Bahamas.

The geometry of this image provides a solemn, almost static feeling. The composition is nearly perfectly bisected with the horizon. This nearly flat line is interrupted by two elements: the figure and the island. The lower rectangular region of water and sand is divided into two wedges. The patterns of the tranquil waters are reflected in the sky. Tuft-like trees adorn the tiny island and hint at it’s scale and distance.

The direction the body is facing, the shoreline, and the striations in the clouds, all hint at left-to-right movement. The most prominent confirmation of this directionality is the space in front of the figure.

The calm water and close placement of the island invite us to contemplate her next move. She could easily venture into the water. The ocean is as welcoming as any other element in the image. However, the island represents mystery. Although close, it is too far to tell exactly what happens on it or if it is uninhabited.

The theme of this outdoor nude photograph evolves upon close inspection. The rocky, steep edges of the island appear difficult, if not uncomfortable to ascend. It’s overall gray and jagged texture are an aberration in the otherwise tranquil colors and patterns. One might ponder if the island is naturally occurring or artificial. And if it were manufactured, for what purpose, and what has become of it’s maker?


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