Karl Philips (BE, 1984) is one of those rare young artists for whom commitment is not a dead character. In the wide tradition of a lot of predecessors he is creating art in which militant commitment finds a free way out in the world of art. Because of this his work is of special value because commitment becomes life in his work with grand attention for those “we” call the “outcasts” for convenience's sake and far from our beds.
In the light of a mild activism Karl Philips is using all possible strategies as a reference point to extrapolate his intentions towards a desire to allow everyone more chance at succeeding in the though-as-nails world in which the inwards folded art world sometimes doesn't even properly know what the meaning still is of the reality of the seamy side of the world.
Karl Philips wants to keep building on the road to “human worthy” alternatives for residency – he lived and lives in a converted camper himself – and then investigate how he can make use of his expertise for the fellow human being standing on the side. With his work he tests to what extent this kind of radical commitment can keep flourishing as an interesting known fact inside of the world we call the “contemporary illustrative art”.
The call is already audible that this would not be art – where then is the border to be found and to be drawn between spoken and experienced values and to what extent can the world of art follow in this or not? With other words: what is the social role of art today...
Besides of the aging artist Jef Geys and the younger Sven 't Jolle there are few artists in this country who really concern themselves with this kind of content. Most of the artists seek in the formal, almost approaching the formalistic, for the absolute beauty that by itself (infinitely) keeps the art going, but on closer examination this kind of art remains free of value.
On one side the work of Karl Philips is therefore a test case within the world of art, on the other side the social relevance sticks out a mile as long as society keeps on creating “margins” which are based upon (unconscious) expulsion.
Luk Lambrecht, 2009