Rites at Dawn


  • From a limited edition of 5 archival photographs
  • Signed and numbered by artist A K Nicholas
  • Image: 30×20 inches/76×51 cm
  • Paper: 32×22 inches/81×56 cm



In this surreal art nude photograph, two nymph-like figures are gathered around a third, who is collapsed, supine, into the water. The central figure is visible from chin to toe, her legs submerged below the knee, her face hidden from view. They are encircled by two dozen ghostly flowers, a glowing candle in the center of floating lily.

Dark blues dominate the background, pierced by luminous pinks and yellows. The bodies seem to radiate warmth. The blues become denser towards the periphery of the image, emphasizing the glow of the flames and implying a seclusion in the darkness. Our vantage point is that of the unseen participant, as if in an allegorical painting.

The title is intentionally ambiguous for this image that is vaguely metaphysical. The image feels ceremonial, and references the cycle of life seen in the rising sun, resurrected from the night. The fire floating on water symbolizes a danger from the flames and the ease by which the same can be extinguished.

Candles have been a part of human culture for five thousand years. The flame and light have become a symbol in art and various beliefs, often representing life. Many religions recognize the spiritual nature of lighting and burning a candle and incorporate this act into rituals. Wax is melted to form a candle, and then drips away as it burns, reminding us that life is cyclical.  The journey of a flower is also circular, budding, blooming, and then decaying into fertilizer for future plants.

Christians, Buddhists, Jew, and Druids have used candles in ceremonies ranging from weddings to funerals. This far-reaching symbolism touches many people through pagan religions,  Abrahamic religions, and superstitions.

Key elements of this surreal art nude photograph include the unexpected arrangement of lit candles with the bathing figures. There is no explanation for what exactly is happening, why, and how they became arranged this way. The style was inspired by the twentieth-century surrealism movement, which strove to create art from the intentions of the subconscious mind of the artist through the combination of unlikely elements.

You may also like…

  • Symbolic artwork. Angelic figure, Limited edition nude photography.

    Allegory of the Arch 2/10

    Edition of 10 ~ 30×20 inches

  • limited edition photograph surreal expressionistic art nude

    Crucifix Itero

    Edition of 10 ~ 30×20 inches

  • Limited edition art nude photography

    Parking Spot Four

    Edition of 10 ~ 30×20 inches