A colourful life

Painter, musician, artist, mail carrier and father of five children. A native of Lucerne, Lukas Hürlimann lives with his family in a little corner of paradise in Malters – outside, a secluded garden and indoors, a workshop where he paints every day.

Claudia Langenegger

The painter and mail carrier, Lukas Hürlimann, stands in his studio at home, a large painting hanging behind him on the wall.
Lukas Hürlimann at home in his studio. Copyright: Franca Pedrazzetti

The room is light and airy with large pictures on the walls, a jumbled pile of painted postcards lies in a corner while paints and brushes of every shape and size stand on the table by the window. The wooden floor is spattered with paint, as are Lukas Hürlimann’s shoes. In the gallery is a stack of painted canvasses of every size.

The native of Lucerne shows large-format watercolours on paper in his studio.
The native of Lucerne shows large-format watercolours on paper in his studio. Copyright: Franca Pedrazzetti

Creative everyday life

“I paint every day,” says the native of Lucerne. The canvas beside him – measuring three metres by one metre eighty – is painted with colours that run into one another, the transparent layers shimmering through, abstract patterns in a technique reminiscent of watercolours and yet quite unique.

“That is antique ink,” he explains. “I try out lots of things.” Sometimes he even lies the canvases on the floor and paints wildly like Jackson Pollock.

Piles of colourfully painted postcards.
Piles of artwork in postcard format. He paints at least 10 of these every day. Copyright: Franca Pedrazzetti

An artistically talented boy

The local boy has been painting for as long as he can remember. “I actually wanted to go to the arts and crafts school,” he recalls. But his father didn’t think that being a artist was a real job. So Lukas Hürlimann studied to become an organ builder in Lucerne and Zurich. The income was nevertheless irregular and too low – in particular with a family to feed. With a fourth child on the way, he changed jobs: after a short training stint, he took up the job of mail carrier in Lucerne old town where he also lived at the time. That was 25 years ago.

Pocket money with express mail

The postal service was not unfamiliar to Lukas: his father had been a sub-postmaster and he had often helped out as a young boy. “I would deliver express mail, earning my own money for the first time in the process.”

He is one of those mail carriers who is happy in his work, always has a smile on his face, knows someone on every other street corner and is invited in for coffee at least once on his round every day. “I love a coffee – when I’m on a break of course!” he says. He is also one of the mail carriers who delivers the mail wearing a wig during “Fasnacht” (Carnival) in Lucerne.

Numerous glasses containing antique ink in a range of colours stand on a table.
The precious antique ink is used vividly. Copyright: Franca Pedrazzetti

Regular job – freedom in art

“Working for Swiss Post has given me the freedom to experiment with painting and to paint whatever I want,” explains Lukas Hürlimann. The famous gallery owner in Berne, Fritz Tanner, sponsored him and an Italian gallery owner would also have happily taken him under his wing. But this gallery owner knew exactly what he wanted. “He told me to paint in a particular way that would be pleasing.” That wasn’t for Lukas, who was keen to experiment. “I wanted to be free and not to be guided by specific tastes.”

Exhibitions and studio residencies

He is modest, almost shy, when he talks about his painting and his passion for art. His works have been shown in more than fifty exhibitions and he frequently sells pictures – mostly investing the money in painting materials. His highlights are his studio residencies in Ticino and on the island of Elba.

He happily combines painting with other art forms, regularly participating in performances in which painting is combined with literature, music, sounds, acting and experimentation.

Lukas Hürlimann in the gazebo with an accordion on his lap.

Musically versatile

His other passion is music. As a boy, he learned to play the flute at music school, later turning his attention to the piano, drums, saxophone, accordion and a few other instruments. During Carnival in Lucerne, he gives his time as a musician and has even been on tour – with three circus artists and his partner, Regula Christen. When touring Brittany, three artist friends from the clown school in Paris needed musical accompaniment, and so the couple spent their holidays working as musicians.

Relaxing in a garden paradise

The next exhibition is doubtless not far away. In the meantime, he spends his free time painting, making music and enjoying the secluded garden with its many flowers, large fire pit and old construction site trailer that they have converted into a cosy veranda. He lives in a secluded paradise, offering him the perfect balance to his job as a mail carrier at Swiss Post.

written by

Claudia Langenegger