Lili & Jesko are travelling artists. Their travel paintings almost exclusively feature impressions of their numerous trips to Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Their art is the result of a leisurely journey without a specific goal or destination, a journey through special moments and chance encounters, through impressions and feelings. Lili & Jesko’s trip is more of an internal journey of discovery than an external one. The adventure and experiences of the journey are then condensed into a painting.
Their motto during our month-long travels is “spend time, save time”. They are slow travellers, in order to allow unknown, surprising encounters and moments to just happen, to allow for serendipity. They are without destination, without purpose, without plans, without a pre-determined route, without a planned end, endless. Lili & Jesko partake in voyages of discovery. A dive into the deep unknown, allowing the impact to sink in; an exploration of a country by surrendering oneself to it.
In 2004 when Lili & Jesko travelled to Burma/Myanmar for the first time, they stayed in Bagan for a week and attended the famous Ananda Pagoda Festival. Villagers from around Bagan came to the festival in traditional bullock carts and made camps for the whole duration of the festival. They lingered around the tea shops and improvised stores which were selling everything from foodstuff to agricultural implements. Many famous local theatrical troupes had come also to provide entertainment for the festival-goers. After a while they discovered a tented photo studio of a Burmese extended family. Normally only locals asked to be photographed. On display were all sorts of costumes and different painted backgrounds. With their passion for costumes, they loved the idea of taking a photo. Lili & Jesko were immediately surrounded by a group of laughing assistants and once they tried the various costumes on they decided to dress up as Burmese dancers. The boss of the company was a warm-hearted, energetic lady who started to bring them into particular positions for the photographer, such as placing their hands on puppets. She was so satisfied with the result as they were passionately following her instructions. They had so much fun with all of them that they kept on taking photos in different classical Burmese dancing positions and couldn’t resist coming back the following days to try on other outfits.
In 2001 Lili & Jesko travelled 3000 km around Rajasthan, India, from one Maharaja’s Palace to another in an old Ambassador limousine with violet curtains, so romantic. Their Indian driver could neither speak English nor could he read Hindi and he had never done the tour before. So this became a true adventure because at every junction they had to look for an English speaking person to ask for directions and to please tell it to the driver in Hindi. Of course they could have changed drivers, but the risk is, if the driver speaks English too well he only has his own business in mind and takes you to shops which you don’t want to go to. Like this they had a trip full of surprising encounters.
In 2006 Lili & Jesko did a three month trip through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma. When we arrived in the North of Laos, at Luang Namtha, they decided to proceed to North Thailand not via bus but by taking a two day boat trip on the river Nam Tha in an open, wooden longboat. Usually if they have the choice they always prefer to take a boat to satisfy Jesko’s passion for boats. There were no seats so they sat directly on the planks, gliding along the mystical Nam Tha River, floating in between walls of intense green, enjoying the concert of the rainforest’s changing rhythm at each smooth turn of the river, sliding through the impressive natural scenery overlooking the earth-coloured waters of this majestic tributary of the Mekong with tiny tribal villages nestled on it’s banks. Overnight Lili & Jesko stayed in the traditional boatmen’s village of Ban Khone Kham, in the simple stilt house of the boatmen’s family. After having a nice meal with them, Jesko asked if there would be any opportunity to recharge his video camera, expecting it wouldn’t be possible. But contrary to their assumption, the boatmen pointed at two simple cables hanging loose from the ceiling, they were explained that the electricity was made by a bicycle dynamo installed at the riverside – absolutely fantastic! Time and again Lili & Jesko are impressed and inspired while travelling through various countries where people have to improvise because it is impossible to acquire anything new, perfect or hi tech. So often you find upcycled objects in Lili & Jesko’s environments and discover signs of their passion for improvisation.