The artist
Art objects
-- Point of view --
Image présentation
Image présentation

For me, the classical portrait is the best way to show the character of animals. With the invention of photography, the definition of art in painting has changed. Nevertheless, the portrait style of painting is not like a photo because it captures both the look and feeling of the artist. It is important for me to visualize and see the animal, and I take several photos before I paint. A single photo does not always truly reflect the character of the animal, and so, by taking several photos, I can better translate the nature of the animal into my work. It is also important for me to see the colors, which allow me to choose the right light effects. The photos are an important part of the work.

The next stage involves finding a harmony between the subject and the background for my painting. My favorite painters are Velasquez, Vermeer, Degas, Franz Marc, Escher and contemporary painters like Richter and Lucian Freud. My favorite painters of horses are George Stubbs, John Ferneley, John Frederick Herring Senior, Alfred Munnings and Richard Stone Reeves. It is important to me that my portraits give rise to reflection.

In addition to animal portraits, I have also looked at fractal art and the relationship between art and mathematics.  With my studies on geometry (and my book: ‘Dessinons des Chevaux – Editions Vigot’), I have looked at the way that art and mathematics often converge.  The structural possibilities of the square have helped artists of all generations. Escher, Vasarely and many contemporary artists demonstrate this in their work. Circles and squares center the attention on the individual and are therefore very suitable for portraits.  As the horse’s body fits into a square shape, I used geometrical ‘cavalcarrés’ to work on the relationship between the horse and the square. ‘Cavalcare’ in Italian means to ride.

I am not looking to shock or provoke. I want to show the relationship between nature and animals. Humans have a tendency to try to understand and control nature. I paint in a musical way. I love cubism and futurism which is reflected in my mixture of traditional and modern styles of painting. Through my art, I want to focus on the beauty of the world and not on its disturbances.

« A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made withideas. » G.H.Hardy

(photo 1: my photo from the Passing Winter, Yayoi Kusama, Tate Gallery, London)


« Marie-Odile Colatrella has become a familiar figure on France’s racecourses. From Arazi to Montjeu she has been commissioned to paint France’s best racehorses, and has attracted a professional following  which includes André Fabre, Philippe Augier and Alec Head.

Colatrella’s equine portraits are admired for their realism, and for her ability to portray a horse’s character.

A general’s daughter, Marie-Odile’s passion for horses began early and her first commission was to illustrate the magazine of an army riding school. Ten years ago, she was happy to help out in the offices of Trot Informations and she has painted many of trotting’s stars over the last ten years since her first exhibition was held at Vincennes racetrack.

These days her paintings and drawings are widely exhibited all over France and she has a loyal following. Recent commissions have included Peintre Célèbre and Sadler’s Wells for Coolmore Stud, the top fillies Leggera, Volvoreta and Rêve d’Oscar, and France’s leading young sire Anabaa. She is currently working on portraits of Montjeu, Giant’s Causeway and King’s Best from her studio in Maisons-Laffitte.

“I have always been inspired by English and American realist painters”, she says,”people like Richard Stone Reeves, Michael Jeffery and Munnings, and I have worked at understanding equine anatomy”. As most horses are unwilling to pose she works with a sketch pad and a camera but will always return to view a subject several times and to talk to those who know the horse best. “For instance”, she explains, “a camera can never faithfully record a horse’s coat and for that I have to use my memory. I try to illustrate a horse’s character by his look and its expression (…) » (Jocelyn de Moubray-Pacemaker, march 2001)

Marie-Odile Colatrella painted more than 300 portraits. She has many works in private collections in others countries: Austria, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, USA. She wrote the book Dessinons des chevaux (Vigot-2013). Translated into Russian.