Morning in Provence captures the tranquillity of the French countryside, depicting a quiet country road that winds its way down into a broad valley. Besides capturing with faithful accuracy an impression of the overall landscape, Szeto Lap also firmly situates the perspective of the viewer within the work, as if one could really smell the perfumed summer air and feel a light breeze caressing one’s cheeks. Like the painters of the Barbizon school who drew their inspiration directly from nature and loved painting the French countryside, Szeto has created a number of works that celebrate the lyrical beauty of the Provençal landscape. His works are reminiscent of those by Charles-Francois Daubigny, whose works also possess a serene, romantic beauty that transport the viewer into the scene that is depicted.
Yet Szeto is not satisfied with traditional approaches towards realism and plein air painting. Profoundly influenced by theories of phenomenology, Szeto has developed his own unique approach towards observation, stating “when observing for the purposes of drawing, one should avoid trying to capture an accurate representation while in direct view of the subject.” Rather than present a completely faithful depiction, devoid of meaning, it is much more interesting to express one’s impressions and memory of a subject. As such, Morning in Provence is not an accurate depiction of any one place, but rather an impression that exists only in the mind of the artist.
According to Szeto, the goal of modern art should not be to overturn previous ideologies, but to find new means of expressing reality, and to forge new paths via technical and skill-based innovation. Within the realm of figurative painting, Szeto Lap has pioneered new approaches to an age-old process, presenting his viewers with beautiful visualizations of imaginary spaces grounded in phenomenological reality.