This artist gives life anew to single-use plastic waste through his advocacy and artworks

Published March 30, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Jules Vivas

From mess to message

GREEN ARTIST Gilbert Calderon Angeles, cofounder of Green Artz

In the age of information and the advent of technology many of us are becoming better informed about our environmental problems. The earth is dying and, with it, mankind. Who knows the pandemic may just be connected to the world’s deterioration? The realization of the planet’s poor state is what urges people to turn to a sustainable lifestyle, a way of living that aims to reduce carbon footprint and the use of our natural resources.

Now, sustainability can be seen in all aspects of life, whether in economics, politics, and even culture. In art, we have what we call sustainable art. While this conceptual art can be traced back to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, it applies to the current ecological issues. Here art becomes social instruments to incite even more awareness on our environmental dilemma.

In the Philippines, Green Artz is one of the proponents of sustainable art. Its mission is to spread consciousness of the harmful effects of post-consumer waste through shared value principles and works that turn trash into treasure. It is a collaborative platform for artists, enthusiasts, corporations, and communities to create an environmentally responsible culture and a sustainable future for all.

As we enter earth month, April 22 being earth day, post-consumer waste artist Gilbert Calderon Angeles, showcases his eco-paintings in another installment of the art exhibit series “Of Art and Wine.” Sociology, astronomy, and ecology converge in this edition aptly titled “New Earth, New Life, New Hope.” The Bulakeño artist’s “unique accidents technique” brings to life multi-layered, eye-catching, chaotic paintings that incorporate shredded single-use plastic laminates and leftover acrylic.

Among the 28-piece collection is ‘Stillness,’ one of Gilbert’s favorite artwork. “This is about David and Bathsheba,” he says, and furthers, “the fall of King David reminds me of humility. To stay grounded. Hence, ‘stillness.’” 

Gilbert’s contemporary abstracts are distinct. He likens his paintings to that of a child’s artwork, best described as simple, calming, and carefree, a style he has most likely adopted from his inspiration American abstract painter Mark Rothko. “Maybe this is the art that we need in this time of pandemic,” he suggests, referring to art as a form of therapy. “Do not try to interpret or overcomplicate things.”

‘Maybe this is the art that we need in this time of pandemic. Do not try to interpret or overcomplicate things.’

A Fine Arts graduate from the University of Santo Thomas (UST), Gilbert is also a business man, a nurse, and a teacher. With these credentials and extensive knowledge on sustainable art, he established Green Artz. The movement is also at the forefront of promoting a circular economy in the country, where waste is transformed into valuable resources.

‘Possibilities,’ functional art, 2020

Aside from paintings, Gilbert also does functional art, aesthetic objects made with utilitarian purposes. One of his functional artworks available in the exhibit is called “Possibilities,” a yellow door with several rectangular patterns, a piece that’s very similar to the art style of Rothko.

Gilbert confesses that older or well-established artists may frown upon his practice. And yet, his approach to art that is all about the promotion of a circular economy might be a perfect fit for the youth. Art should address more than one or two problems. “My wish is to influence artists young and old to use their craft and passion for the arts to protect and conserve the environment one artwork at a time,” he says. “An individual is capable of being part of the solution by reusing, recycling, refusing single-waste practices.” Indeed, for Gilbert and Green Artz, waste becomes a solution.

Collectors and art enthusiasts may reserve or purchase the artworks found at the Gallery C of Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard, Coral Way, Pasay, until May 9. It is also available for online viewing and at Conrad Manila’s Facebook | 8833-9999 |