The painting Rider Who Bit Off the Horse’s Head by Vilmantas Marcinkevičius is another postmodern interpretation of a story containing a human and an animal. But here, differently from Šalčiūtė’s work, which is an expression of liberation, Marcinkevičius shows us a disharmonious, violent relationship between human and animal.
The bright fluorescent colours contrast with the painting’s bleak subject matter. A man in worker’s clothing holds a horse’s head in his hands. In classical iconography and literary texts the horse or steed is a noble creature and a rider’s most loyal friend and helper. To kill it is tantamount to betraying a friend or helpmate. Marcinkevičius’s painting therefore contradicts the idea of the Lithuanian Vytis, or White Knight, and legends about national heroes. The rider becomes a confused worker who has killed his best friend.
But of course, it is impossible to bite off a horse’s head, so Marcinkevičius’s painting can also be interpreted as a metaphor for internal conflict, anxiety and the unknown.