No other living equestrian artist brings such a light-hearted sense of fun to the racing scene. He loves the fashionable crowds of spectators, their clothes as vivid as the jockeys’ silks, majestic thoroughbreds striding on emerald turf. Gallery Director Geoffrey Hughes describes Lambert’s work as a ‘thrilling, altogether novel depiction of the Turf.
The late Sir Peter O’Sullevan, the ‘Great Voice of Racing’ for radio and television, former chairman of the Osborne Studio Gallery, said that Elie Lambert’s colourful long-legged horses are ‘evidently shod by Louboutin’. He describes Lambert as ‘compulsive, engaging, entertaining, quixotic.’
Elie Lambert’s third solo exhibition for the Osborne Studio Gallery coincides with the return of Royal Ascot Week, the most glamorous event in Britain’s sporting calendar.
Racegoers will put on their finery, ladies in crazy hats, gentlemen in tailcoats, will feast on champagne picnics, after months of gloomy lockdown.
Ascot Week is a Royal favourite, never missed, especially for HM Queen Elizabeth, no other monarch so enthralled by horses and racing. Her daughter Princess Anne, the only Royal Olympian, eventing champion, opened The Osborne Studio Gallery in 1986.
Elie Lambert was born in Belgium in 1949, but a naturalised French citizen, who emphasises his love of France in his own words, ‘le plus Francophile des Belges.’ His life, from early childhood, has been consecrated to The Horse: licensed ‘gentleman rider’ at 18, racing correspondent for Paris-Turf and the former Sporting Life, bloodstock agent, fine art and antique dealer, and now a full-time painter living in Deauville, Normandy, just a few seconds from the racecourse, near the Rothschild stud. He tells his story: ‘I grew up in the middle of stud farms where all activity was around breeding and thoroughbred racing, always in wonderful surroundings.’
As a young jockey, he joined the stable of a racing grandee, the Vicomte d’Hendecourt. Young Elie always had his sketchbook at hand somewhere, and determined to study art, though a ‘restless pupil’ attending the Academie des Beaux Arts in Brussels, followed by the School of Architecture, for three and a half years.
When asked about his palette of primary colours for a recent interview in The Field Magazine (established 1853) Lambert says: ‘I think it is a reaction against the dark, yellow and brown paintings of the Flemish schools that I hate. I am more influenced by artists from my own generation like David Hockney, Jack Butler Yeats, and then the great classic in my genre, Sir Alfred Munnings. But the master is without the shadow of a doubt, a chap called Picasso.’
As an expression of his particular joie de vivre, his own heartfelt words: ‘There is not much philosophy in my work. I just capture a moment of intense happiness to be alive, surrounded by the generous nature of our racecourses, stud farms, and the beauty of a horse.’