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Fileteado, the Buenos Aires art that conquered the world

With its delicate strokes and floral finishes, this World Heritage Site continues to amaze.


The Exalted Jorge Luis Borges once said that Buenos Aires understood “as eternal as water and air”. This same notion of uprooting as time goes by some traditions of the Argentine capital; and filleting, a typographic and decorative art, is undoubtedly a master example.

A reinvented tradition

The social context of its origin resembles that of tango itself: the growing working class of the 19th century, with its cars, markets and an immigration that progressively turned the inhabitants into citizens. Today, the vivid colors and their floral finishes provide a feeling of nostalgia in any Buenos Aires.

However, as in the genre of 2x4, filleting continues to be reinvented and still remains valid, allowing customs to evolve but never die. Nowadays, young artists, graphic designers, painters and even tattooists look at filleting as a source of inspiration and decide to rediscover it in its multiple formats.

Gustavo Ferrari, 35, is a welcome example of this. While still retaining his post at the Antiquities Fair on Sundays in San Telmo, he also instructs young people from all over the world in the art of filleting, both in his own workshop in Buenos Aires and on his travels to the five continents. In broad terms, Ferrari designs traditional pieces and, in turn, also aims to break the mold, mixing bright tones with black and white models that incorporate new applications.

“ The tangos of the 30s and 40s talked about the city of their time, but today's orchestras have to talk about Buenos Aires now, and the same goes for filletado,” says who assumed this vocation at the age of 18 for his neighborhood legacy and, also, as a way to rest from books while studying History at the university.

“ In the 1980s, filleting was still something very particular; it was too popular and colorinche. It was in a difficult time as the old teachers began to die,” he says. However, Ferrari recalls: “One of my first visual memories of a boy growing up in the Abasto was the mural that León Untroib made of Gardel on line B, which is still in force. It was an incredible thing that caught my attention because of the shapes and colors.”

As a synonym of identity

His passage through the Faculty of History gives him credit to explain the legacy of filetado and its intimate relationship with the visual identity of Buenos Aires. Of humble origin, its development in this port city was the result of the push of Italian immigrants towards the end of the 19th century. They used the technique to decorate their wooden carts; first, with minimal details; then, incorporating the initials of their owners.

Over the years, the filleters doubled the bet and added to their intangible vocabulary birds, dragons, acanthus flowers and an implicit application manual, with rules on the balance of sizes and elements. They also perfected their strokes and strategies; the yapan varnish, by case, allowed them to create new volumes and maintain the strength of the colors.

In the 20s and 30s, theboom& nbsp; of the filleting was based on beautifying trucks and collectives (buses). The drivers themselves competed to have the most artistic walking piece; later they already assigned names to the vehicles and, including

Publication Date: 08/04/2019

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