See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No Evil is an offset lithograph in colours by Keith Haring. The print depicts three androgynous figures, in blue, yellow and red respectively. The figures are mimicking the poses of the three wise monkeys, a Japanese pictorial maxim that embodies the proverbial principle ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’.
The print is rendered in striking colours, and the figures are drawn using thick, bold lines, characteristic of Haring’s unique visual style. The ‘energy lines’ emitted by the three figures are seen in Haring’s other works, such as the Growing series, and evoke the power of people working together, community and solidarity. The lines also bring a sense of energy and movement to the print, making it an exciting visual object.
The bold lines seen in See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No Evil are typical of Haring’s work and seen in many of his other prints. The three figures are also representative of Haring’s use of symbolic figures. Throughout his artistic career, Haring developed various figures that he called ‘icons’ which reappear throughout his prints. Alongside the androgynous figures are crawling babies, winged people and barking dogs. Haring’s Icons series features some of his most recognisable motifs, which can also be seen in the Pop Shop series.
Haring’s move to New York in 1978 had a significant impact on his visual style. Influenced by the street art and graffiti he observed, Haring developed a distinct pop-graffiti aesthetic. This artistic style was honed through his graffiti drawings on unused advertising spaces in New York subway stations. Haring’s art bridges the gap between high and low culture, and he was a pivotal figure in demonstrating how street art should also be counted as high art worthy of exhibition.