El Caballo Muerto
(The Dead Horse)
25" x 37", oil on canvas.
Victor Vasquez Temó
Victor Vasquez Temó chose one of the most unusual subjects for a Tz'utuhil Mayan when he painted the removal of a dead horse from his town. Victor's emotions exist more on the surface, both in his life and in his paintings, than most of the other Tz'utuhil Mayan artists. When it happened, the removal of the horse left a strong impression on the young animal-loving Victor. Because he felt strongly the event qualified as a theme for a painting.
The story as Victor explained it to me is rather straightforward. A horse fell dead in the center of town. Its owner could not move the horse by himself because of its weight. A dead and rotting horse in the town could be a source of disease, so the townsmen a team of men to move the horse outside the town where it could be properly buried.
I have never put this painting up for sale because of the astounding horse. It appears much more alive than any of the people in the painting (turn the painting upside down to confirm this). Because the horse seems so wildly alive, the painting causes much discussion among viewers (What is happening here? What are they doing to the poor horse? How could they be so cruel?).
The interpretation I favor which relies on aspects of Mayan belief, would be that Victor has captured in this painting the nahual, or animal spirit, of the dead horse whose death he remembered.