Although Early Summer is not strictly a sequel to Late Spring, the two Yasujirō Ozu films form the first two thirds of what is commonly referred to as the Noriko Trilogy, with the highly acclaimed Tokyo Story fulfilling the final instalment. The character name Noriko is concurrent, along with the actor who plays her, but the stories themselves are unrelated, yet tied inextricably together.
Ozu’s intimate look at family relations offers fertile ground for the artist Katherine Lam, whose work contains pervading themes of introspection, the perception of space that exists within our relationships, and the almost tangible weight and feeling of existence.
While Ozu frames the security and comfort of family life, before exposing it to the threat of outside forces and allowing the formation of stress lines to develop, Lam regularly frames her characters in a relationship with light and dark, allowing comfort in the sanctuary of shadowy corners and silhouette forms, and confrontation in the sense of an illuminated other, a reverberating memory, or a prognostic reflection. The work of both artists exists within an understated milieu of the recognisable, and it is there that a deeper exploration of what we at first take for granted is able to occur.
Perhaps this provides an explanation, at least on some level, for why this is such an excellent pairing by the gallery of artist and film titles. There is a shared instinctive knack for setting narrative pace, a deliberateness in what is revealed over time, and an intimate inclusiveness that plays into the viewer’s feeling of being present inside the work.
Something inescapable, once noticed, about Lam’s illustrations, is indeed the positioning of the viewer within the work, as well as the almost cinematic framing of the action. When it comes to alternative film posters, there is often a distinct distance drawn between the poster and the observer, which has a flattening effect on the experience of interaction. Such a poster’s purpose, perhaps, is to simply entertain, and it is designed to do so at a glance. With Lam’s work the interaction is entirely different. The viewer is not only drawn in, but is invariably positioned as the unseen other — the onlooker, the neighbour who is peering out of a high window, the close friend who has just been heralded from the street below — and with the viewer in position, the work is able to deliver an interior experience that produces an altogether unexpected kind of emotional response.
This penetrating effect is certainly found in the dark-to-light framing of Lam’s Late Spring and Early Summer, where we feel privy to the daily lives of the characters depicted, as if we are standing back in the shadows or just entering the room. We feel the captured scene both keenly and personally, but there is a simultaneity of experience, temporal and protracted, where the passing of years appear encapsulated in the single moment.
It really is a remarkable feat, and it’s for this reason that we look forward to the experience of every new work by this artist!
Late Spring and Early summer were highly enjoyable artworks to take to print. Layered in seven colours each, and with some really interesting attention by the artist to how opaque and translucent inks interact, both posters were screenprinted at the White Duck Editions studio in 18”x24” editions of 60 + AP’s.
Surprisingly, there are still a few copies of Early Summer available. Visit Black Dragon Press for more info.
And we can thoroughly recommend visiting the work of Katherine Lam. It’s a fine place to spend time broadening one’s mindscape.