While tango may be Buenos Aires’ most
famous export, there is another local art form that visitors should know about.
Fileteado is a type of
artistic drawing that originated in the Buenos Aires’ wagon factories in the
early 20th Century. While working on the carriages, Italian immigrants began to
paint them with simple lines and decorative elements. Their experimentation
soon developed into a full-fledged art form, which today can be seen all around
the city on buses, taxis and store signs.
Characterised by lively colours and
flowing lines of flowers, plants and ribbons coming together with Gothic style
typography, fileteado has become part of the city’s modern culture, and can be
seen on everything from Coca
Cola bottles to Nike
shoes. Often, images of Buenos Aires icons such as tango singer Carlos
Gardel grace the oval centre of fileteado compositions, and they are almost
always accompanied by a phrase or popular saying, whether humorous, emotional
One of the best known fileteado artists is
whose Italian great grandfather was a decorative painter of public buildings
and burial vaults in Buenos Aires. Recently named an Outstanding Presence in Culture by the city of Buenos Aires, Genovese has
been teaching fileteado since 1998, has published several books on the subject
and his work can be found across Buenos Aires and the world on signs and in
exhibitions and galleries. Paseo de
Filete, on Jean Jaures street in Abasto, a neighbourhood known for its rich
tango history, consists of six houses completely covered in Fileteado,
including works by Genovese.
Visitors to the city can learn more about
this delicate art form on Genovese’s two-day intensive workshops, with the
next one taking place on 2 and 3 February 2013. Students will learn theory,
technique and composition, ending with them creating their very own fileteado
plaque. The workshop costs 590 Argentinean dollars, with all materials
included. See the entire 2013 schedule on Genovese’s website.
Tim Fitzgerald is the
Buenos Aires Localite for BBC Travel. He also writes gringoinbuenosaires.com.