In Ascent, an angelic figure floats skyward, symbolic of resurrection, but also conjuring images of death and annihilation, evoking a struggle between the corporeal and the otherworldly. The image explores the conflict between the idea of society's linear progression and an indeterminate and sinister opposite force.
Anarchic, frantic, and whimsical are some of the adjectives that come to mind to describe Basquiat's mark making in this piece. On first look, it seems to be a chaotic mix of colour and movement, yet this conceals a meticulous approach to composition that is driven by purpose and attention to symbolic detail.
Blue paint obscures much of the text and a number of sketches. Allusions to Christianity abound, with representations of resurrection and references to “John The Revelator” and “myrrh” accompanying an eclectic mix of symbols and drawings. Much of the lettering is scribbled or crossed out. The pools of blue paint suggest the sea, giving the composition a map-like quality.