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Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets of San Telmo the tourist will meet one of the most emblematic brands of the city: the porteño filleteado. Characterized by its colorful swirls - steaks - artistic letters and floral motifs, this popular decorative art can be found almost everywhere in the city's historic quarter, from building facades to trucks and tattoo salons. But it wasn't always like that.
Filleting was born in the early twentieth century in the car factories of Buenos Aires when Italian immigrants began to paint the sides of these traditionally gray carts with simple lines and ornament elements. Over time, fileteators (artists) added more complex components to their work, such as light and shadow effects, flowers, plants, animals, ribbons and popular sayings in Gothic style typography, which characterize today's art.
As the art form expanded from horse-drawn carriages to business posters and more modern vehicles, Buenos Aires's artistic elite despised it. In fact, in 1975, the city passed a law banning paintings by city collectives, claiming that it could distract drivers. The law was repealed only in 2006. The 31-year ban, combined with a subsequent economic crisis in the 1980s, caused many of the studies that once employed filleteers to close. But filleting has experienced a resurgence in recent decades, with artists looking for alternative canvases for their work.
In 2004, the Directorate General of Museums of Buenos Aires had six facades painted filteadores on Jean Jaures Street, on the same block of the Carlos Gardel House Museum. Today, these concrete canvases make up the largest outdoor filleted exhibition.
In 2015, the porteño filleteado was registered as Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage, and today, some groups offer tours where participants can learn to make their own filleted work of art.
The parish San Pedro Telmo is the temple of Buenos Aires where filleting is in every corner. Recently a full-bodied image was consecrated in the temple, a work of master filleteator Martiniano Arce. Our Lady of Lourdes is also observed. In addition to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Bethlehem, under whose advocation is the temple.
Publication Date: 13/10/2020
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