Lily the Werewolf is the field name of an SS guerilla fighter, whose real moniker was Richard Jarozyk. He was executed in Kitzingen, Bavaria, by an American firing squad on April the 28th, 1945.

Photo of painting for Death of Lily the Werewolf by Alan dedman
Death of Lily the Werewolf by Alan Dedman

The ‘Werewolves’ (Werwolf-Bewegung) were created by Heinrich Himmler to effect resistance against allied forces during the liberation of Europe. The organisation used a radio transmitter each evening to broadcast wolf-like howls and terrifying lycanthropic threats: “I’m wild and I want to take revenge – hoo, hoo, hoo – my name is Lily der Werwolf – my wolf teeth will now make the enemy a bit louder” (translated from a 1965 edition of the Italian magazine ‘Epoca’).

Epoca magazine mast-head alan dedman

I found a copy of Epoca in Wardour Street, Soho, London in 1979. I kept it because I knew I would someday use the remarkable black and white photos of war torn towns with it’s centre spread depicting Lily’s execution.

Rifleman 5 by Alan Dedman from Death of Lily the Werewolf
Rifleman 4

Guardian journalist Jonathan Jones rightly asserts “All the best Art is about sex and death’. Death is part of life and we all have to face it. My own direct experience (apart from funerals) has been quite graphic and varied. As a student, I helped give first aid to a victim of a gangland shooting; messy, lots of Claret.

At HMP Shepton, one was able to contemplate the hanging shed. Later, I made drawings from dissected corpses in a morgue – all of which changes one’s perceptions about the material aspect of human being (and not being). I wanted to make a painting about death, based on the image I found in Epoca.

However, it seemed futile to translate the photo through painterly realism so I chose to make a horribly messy, chaotic explosion in paint that celebrates the total lack of control we have over our lives and deaths. Or rather, which celebrates the fact we cannot avoid the chaos death brings when it happens.

Rifleman 5 detail from Death of Lily the Werewolf by Alan Dedman
Rifleman 4

I flipped a canvas used for a commission I did on behalf of Thames TV, leaving the cast of ‘Britain’s Got More Talent‘ on one side, so Lily the Werewolf could populate the other. I used a grid to lay out a drawing in charcoal, then assaulted the canvas with paint.  

The result: frenetic, crazed gestural brush-work, with a good deal of ‘air’. Angry snarls about the need to paint politely or the need to paint at all and everything which imprisons us during this life. Anger at the passivity inflicted on us when someone dies.

Rifleman 1 painting detail from Death of Lily the Werewolf by Alan Dedman
Rifleman 1

I rarely complete a painting, just move on to something else. In the weeks after beginning the work I used cardboard stencils, borrowing a technique made popular by ‘Keith Bryant’ (aka ‘Banksy’), observing the deadening effect of matte black choking the gay palette I used for the work. Unfortunately this is part of ‘Keith’s’ cynical legacy – street connoisseurs now think ‘Art’ consists of black and white images and little else. They forego any sort of critical awareness regarding the illusion of space effected by chroma or the emotional significance of unbridled colour – sinking back into the safety of monochrome.

Detail of Rifleman from Death of Lily the Werewolf painting by Alan Dedman
Rifleman 2

Deep and meaningful? Perhaps Lily the Werewolf can be. It also demonstrates the suppression of evil by righteous authority. American servicemen policing the World. From an artistic point of view, it was an achievement to discard any sort of kow-towing to academic realism, something which I have learned much about over time. Painting badly, as I was once urged to, seems more therapeutic than painting goodly.

‘Death of Lily the Werewolf’ is a painting in acrylic and emulsion on canvas, by Alan Dedman. The image area is 1m x 2m; there is approximately 50cm of edging canvas. The painting is currently rolled ready for transport. Price: £9,000.00 gbp. 

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