ANAT HEIFETZ uses various painting techniques to make bamboo poles look like rolls of fabric. — NICKKY FAUSTINE P. DE GUZMAN

BAMBOO can be boring — a run-of-the-mill construction material, it doesn’t command attention unless when used as material for something unusual like bicycles or sunglasses. But for artist and fashion designer Anat Heifetz, the simple yet sturdy plants make for an interesting canvas.
In her ongoing exhibition at the Ayala Museum called Bamboo Road: Tel Aviv-Manila, Ms. Heifetz dressed up more than 400 bamboo poles and transformed them into pretty pieces of art.
Painted in black and white (“because I think black and white have all the colors inside them,” she said), Ms. Heifetz carefully drew different patterns on every piece of bamboo.
“I made all the drawings by myself. The ideas are from the fabrics that I remember using from my past, like laces, knits, marble-like images…,” Ms. Heifetz, a Manila-based Israeli artist and fashion designer, told BusinessWorld.
Finishing the bamboo poles depends on the patterns she chooses or how small and delicate they are. They from two weeks to two months to finish.
From a distance, the poles look like rolls of fabric, which is what the artist is aiming for. But when you look closely, you realize that they are painstakingly hand-painted.
“I love bamboo and it always reminded me of fabric rolls so I decided to draw on the bamboo some fabric patterns and textures,” Ms. Heifetz said at the sidelines of her exhibit’s opening.
On view until Aug. 19, the exhibition does not only showcase the artist’s skill, but also commemorates Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence and the 60th anniversary of the Israel-Philippines Friendship Treaty.
A marriage of Filipino and Israel culture, the center piece of the exhibit is a sawali (woven split bamboo mat used as walls in nipa huts) hand-painted a design inspired by the tapestry-woven kilim carpets found in Central Asia, South America, North Africa, and Mediterranean.
“In Israel, my parents had a big kilim carpet hanging at the entrance of the house. I love this carpet, it has been part of my life throughout. So I decided to recreate kilim with sawali. I thought I’d paint on the sawali with kilim pattern to combine my two homes, Tel Aviv and Manila,” she said.
Ms. Heifetz moved to the Philippines in 2015 when her husband found work here. She then started looking for a way to express her artistry and love for bamboo as a material. She met a group of talented artists in Mandaluyong where they enjoyed weekends of art, music, and, local food. Her studio there is her second home.
“The transfer from textile to bamboo was natural for me,” she said. The artist tried many techniques to jazz up a bamboo, and discovered that acrylic paint work well. The results are seen in her exhibit.
To add textures to her work, Ms. Heifetz worked with wood carvers from Paete, Laguna — she gave them patterns to carve into the bamboo poles. Their collaborations are also seen in the exhibition. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman