“The crazier it is, the more I like it”. Each year, Willy Läng attracts an ever increasing number of inalpe lovers with his Poyas.
Known mainly for his Poyas, the Genevois artist Willy Läng settled down in Château-d’Oex over 40 years ago. Here we interview the septuagenarian, who lived in Polynesia for 7 years and was a building manager, an accountant and a diving instructor before settling in the Pays-d'Enhaut to pursue his passion.
"When I was a child I would often visit my next-door neighbour when he was painting. His house was like a refuge for me. Maybe if he had made music, I would have become a musician instead (laughs). However I never took classes, I taught myself everything I know. Today, I am lucky enough to live from my art. It's very motivating."
You have been painting Poyas for more than 20 years, why is that?
"Emile Pernet, a former postman in Château-d'Oex, suggested one day that I create hand-painted Poyas. As I was not very good at drawing, he did the cows and I was doing the painting. I subsequently met Arianne Freudiger. It was she who took up the reins. If I do all the landscapes of the paintings, she does the cows and the figures around them. Arianne has the patience and thoroughness to draw all the horns and legs. I paint quickly. I like things to move."
How do you work?
"Each Poya is different. I work using photos according to the wishes of my clients. Farmers sometimes ask me to paint their cows. It can also be such mountain, a dog or something totally unusual. The crazier it is, the more I like it. In summer, I sit on my balcony in the breeze and the birds, and in winter I paint in one of the rooms in my chalet. I always enjoy it. As I am retired, I take advantage of the day to do other things: hiking, skiing, picking mushrooms and plants, card games. I love to play."
Is there a Willy Läng style?
"Regarding Poyas, I am well-known for my mountains and my Fir trees, which I paint in relief. I also like using natural colours, which do not attract the eye. In general, my style is very realistic. I think that's what people like. My Poyas always have two kites floating in the sky. That’s my signature."