Open Bonnet 4/10


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




The combination of a female personality and an automobile appears in pin-ups and advertisements throughout the decades. Our subject sits on the headlamp of a 1951 Jaguar XK120SE open two-seater convertible. Barely visible behind her hip is a rejuvenated engine. The cold luster of colors on the floor are reminiscent of the patina of aged metal. The gorgeous, sweeping lines of the car luxuriously remind us of the opulence, prosperity, and beauty of the female form. The smooth glow of warm light that fades into the cold shadows sets a quiet but building tension, anticipating an impending outpouring of power and passion. Shadows wrap around the delicate contours of her chest and abdomen, defining her curves and muscles.

Just before I entered art school, I saw an exhibit of the Jaguar E-type at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Although initially skeptical, I learned to appreciate product design as an art form. With a newfound respect for automobile designers, I was inspired to include car bodies in my artwork.

The lines of the Jaguar E-type are considered by some, including rival founder Enzo Ferrari, to have created the most beautiful automobile in the world. The model in this image has also received accolades for her poise and elegance.

The use of negative space sets up a wedge-shaped composition where the car and model inject themselves as glowing curves in the darkness. The angle of view is subtly low, bringing the viewer into the contours of the car and figure rather than gazing down upon them.

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