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Fileteado Porteño with Alfredo Genovese

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Filete Porteño Books

Swirling, symmetrical lines and bright colors are the primary elements of fileteado, the most porteño of all arts. The decorative style can be seen everywhere in the capital, from store fronts to city buses, and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. We met one of Buenos Aires’ most famous filete artists, Alfredo Genovese, at his studio in the barrio of Paternal.

Alfredo Genovese

Alfredo has been painting fileteado for 25 years, perfecting his skill. He’s also dedicated himself to learning about the history of the style, even writing a couple books on the subject. Fileteado first began to appear in the capital’s streets in the 19th century as simple decoration for horse carts. Designs became ever more intricate and, soon enough, every cart in the city was pimped out, usually with the vendor’s name written in Parisian lettering in the center.

Filete spread from horse carts to store fronts, street signs and city buses, but was never truly appreciated as “art” among porteño society. As Buenos Aires became more cosmopolitan and less focused on romanticizing the past, the style was on the verge of being forgotten forever. Luckily, that trend has been reversed. Thanks to the tireless work of artists like Alfredo, it has established a strong foothold in the Argentine conscience.

Alfredo’s studio itself was a thing of beauty, blanketed in samples of his work. When we showed up, he took a break from painting a greeting sign for a family home in Tigre, in order to show us some of his favorite pieces. One was a skateboard design painted for an Argentinian athlete living in LA, which proved so popular, it was mass-produced. Another, and possibly the most well-known example of filete outside of Argentina, is Alfredo’s cover to Mike Doughty’s album Haughty Melodic.

Filete Dragon

We also got a crash course in the basic concepts of filete… Alfredo pointed out the floral designs, and three-dimensional illusion, as well as some of the symbols that often appear. The sun, usually the one in the Argentine flag, represents prosperity. Both real and mythical creatures appear, such as a dragon, which usually signifies corruption. And almost always, a phrase or a portrait can be found in the center — 85% of the time it seems to be Carlos Gardel.

Alfredo is most interested in pushing the boundaries of the art style. He works a lot with body painting, and has introduced some non-traditional elements into his pieces. For those interested in learning about the style, he offers courses in his studio. We had a lot of fun meeting him and learning more about the style, which is so ubiquitous in Buenos Aires, and completely unknown everywhere else.

Alfredo Genovese’s Website
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Filete Porteño Studio
Filete Porteño Classes
Filete Art
Filete San Telmo
Filete Porteño Sneakers
Yerba Mate Filete
Horse Carriage Filete
Filete Body Art
Filete Porteño Coche
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March 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm Comments (4)

The Museum of Modern Art

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Learn about Modern Art

Occupying an old tobacco factory on Avendia San Juan, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA) is an awesome museum with a bright future ahead of it.

Modern Art Museum Buenos Aires

The museum moved to the Piccardo Cigarette Factory in 1986, but has spent the last five years closed for renovations. In late 2010, it partially re-opened to the public, with a couple rooms full of exhibitions. When fully completed, the MAMBA will have over 7000 works and be the largest modern art museum in Latin America. But if you get there early, no bother: even in its reduced state, the MAMBA is worth seeing, especially considering the entry price of $1.

We’re always skeptical of modern art, often finding it pretentious and boring. Upon seeing be-scarved dandies nodding thoughtfully in front of a red square on the wall, I’m known to fly into a violent rage. Thankfully, the works on display in the MAMBA aren’t like that. Though they had just a couple rooms to work with, the museums curators have done a great job of selecting works that are interesting and aesthetically appealing.

The building itself is definitely worth the one-peso entry fee. Inside, a lovely steel staircase dominates the foyer, and the red brick factory truly stands out in the otherwise quaint, historic streets of San Telmo. In the building’s facade, the number 43 is mysteriously repeated over and over again. A little googling revealed that “43” was the name of the cigarette brand produced in the factory.

MAMBA’s Official Website
350 San Juan Ave
Location on our BA Map

Great Hostels in Argentina

Mamba
43 Cigars
Rollercoaster Stairs
San Telmo Art
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February 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm Comment (1)
Fileteado Porteo with Alfredo Genovese
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