"Ascent" by Ann Cloete is a large, exuberant work of abstract expressionism. The painting has a strong palette of yellows, ochres and red/brown shades and uses strong brushwork and contrasting tonal lines which give a great sense of life and movement round the canvas.
When viewed close up one sees first a "pathway" of light in yellows and white like strong sunlight, bordered on each side by textured areas which appear rather like steps. However, upon stepping back to view the painting at a distance a strong portrait emerges on the right hand side. What appeared to be randomly abstract lines and textures resolve into the profile of a bearded man with rounded brow and a strong bone structure. He appears to have tribal markings on his face and this, coupled with his upright bearing and seemingly tranquil gaze are somewhat suggestive of a tribal warrior. At another glance he could almost be a lion.
The artist has used greens within the skin tones to suggest a strong light reflecting off the forehead, alone with deep shadowing on the face, and so the impression is that the man is gazing towards the sun (whether actual or metaphorical). The combination of suggested images and impressions gave me the sense that the painting was, for me at least, about the spiritual ascent of humanity. It is undoubtedly a compelling and fascinating work.