This signed lithograph from 1989 is a limited edition of 90 from Keith Haring’s Chocolate Buddha series. Chocolate Buddha 4 shows a lively composition of organic linear shapes and figures. Using bold, rounded lines against a flat yellow backdrop, Haring creates a symmetrical image of an otherworldly plant-like form, anchored by sitting figures on either side.
Completed the year before Haring’s death, this late print amalgamates the artist’s clear-line figurative style with a more complex and integrated composition to form a highly abstracted image. Recalling styles of the ancient world such as Eastern Mandalas and Australian Aboriginal art, Chocolate Buddha 4 also shows influence from the European Modernists such as Miro, Klee and Matisse. This is notable from the way in which the print focuses on flat, richly coloured shapes and patterns that play out across the image surface.
Chocolate Buddha 4 includes phallic and sperm-like illustrations that seemingly move across the print, injecting the print with a focus on male sexuality. In the later stage of his artistic career, themes around sex and HIV/AIDS dominated his work, just as it dominated Haring’s personal life after his own AIDS diagnosis in 1988.