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Sobre el Fileteado Porteño

[ Fileteado sobre Sulky, antiguo transporte argentino ]The fileteado porteño is a popular decorative art born in the beginnings of the 20th century in the city of Buenos Aires.

Its origins can be found in the cart factories where the craft pioneers actually created it while making the carts' ornamentation. Unfortunately we have very poor documentation about the fileteado's history.

As it happens with the tango, there is neither a first artist nor an exact date allowing to establish its exact beginnings.  Anyhow all the testimonies agree in mentioning three Italian immigrants as its creators : Cecilio Pascarella, Vicente Brunetti and Salvador Venturo.  Each one of them with his own characteristics, developed the fileteado at the same time, working with the different types of carriages available at the start of the century. The first followers of these pioneers were their own descendants.

[ Cartel lateral de un camión de carga ]In Buenos Aires the carts' fileteada decoration began to use a color contrast style.  The grey color of the city would be contrasted with bright colors on the sides of the carts.

The next step was separating these two colors by means of a thin line of a more intense or contrasting hue.  And this was the starting point for the different motifs forming later the wide repertoire that, as well as the technique and the composition, will be characteristic of this unmistakable art.  Flowers, scrolls, acanthus' leaves, ribbons with the Argentine colors,  little balls,  straight and curved lines of different thickness are richly combined with rural scenes and popular characters such as the Holy Virgin and Carlos Gardel.

The colors are very bright and by means of contrasts and transparencies the composition gets volumetric appearance. The painting used for the fileteado is just synthetic enamel, very suitable for outdoors and resistant to the passage of time. These characteristics allow the fileteado art to be constantly on the city streets.[ Fileteado sobre carro lechero ]
The fileteado compositions include texts taken from the very rich collection of proverbs dictated by popular wisdom and by the guild. These texts are its "voice", mentioned once by Jorge Luis Borges as costados sentenciosos ( "sententious sides" ).


[ Fileteado sobre omnibus publico ]

Its presence is so familiar that the fileteado will be thought as an art only when it begins to disappear.

The successive economic crises, the fashions that begin shyly to "globalize" and even a national law ( that forbids fileteado paintings on the buses!! ) in the 70' cause, inevitably, the dissolution of this traditional art.

[ Don Ricardo Gómez fileteando ] The golden years of the great fileteado masters and their unforgettable,  profusely decorated carriages is over, but the fileteado porteño goes on living thanks to a few men, who have come to its rescue from indifference and forgetfulness. They practice it ( perhaps more shyly, in a different context and on different surfaces ) as an art and craft that always provides the playful pleasure inherent to ornamentation.

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