Sapphire Stroke


  • From a limited edition of 5 archival photographs
  • Signed and numbered by artist A K Nicholas
  • Image: 26.7×40 inches/68×102 cm
  • Paper: 28.7×42 inches/73×107 cm

Limited availability (4 remaining)


Vaguely erotic, a single figure glides easily through an expanse of gemlike water. The body radiates warm energy as she slips through the cool water. With only subtle sensuality, this a nude for the living room. She celebrates vitality, individuality, and spontaneity. It is an homage to classic nude photography: in composition, subject, and its lack of confrontation.

It is an unusual pairing: a single figure surrounded by inky water. Her body is straight. Both arms are swept back, hands flexed in effort. Her toes point backward. She appears graceful and seemingly absorbed in her activity.

She contrasts with her surroundings in apparent visual ways: tone and color make her stand out. But she also contrasts in other ways. Most notably, the feeling of action imparted by the lines of her body. All of her limbs, and even her hair, are horizontal. The position of her fingers and toes are deliberate in echoing this motion. The line of her spine continues into the cleft of her posterior. Each of these lines of actions sets her apart from the static surroundings.

Deep hues ranging from sapphire to aquamarine define the negative space around the figure.  Intense tones create intricate patterns that partly obscure the nude swimmer. Glints of pink accent the highlights on the ripples. But despite the intricacy of this watery backdrop, the pool is static. There is no wind and no disturbance external to the figure.

In keeping with classic nude photography, the design is simple. There is one figure on a single background.

Although the figure occupies a minority of the composition, she stands out as the only active element. Her form is rendered in delicate tones of pink that fade into grays and blue. Compare this to the stark shapes of the water. For example, look at her ear, barely above the surface. The contours of her ear are barely different from the surrounding tones but crisply defined nonetheless. Trying to find a similar level of definition in the water is predictably futile. The large expanse of amorphous pattern encourages the viewer to examine the details that are most identifiable: those of the body.

Although this image celebrates classic nude photography, it departs from tradition in various ways. Although the erotic elements are subtle, they are not hidden by shadow or obscured by the ripples. This is clearly a woman at ease with her body on view. It also does not tightly frame the subject. Her environment is shown as more than a mere backdrop, she is an inhabitant.

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