Zhostovo is all around

Sasha Starodubtseva, February 5, 2014

Everything starts with advertising. Fileteado is an art style that was supposed to raise the sales of hardware stuff in Argentina, but it has become a symbol of the country.

There were many identical wagons of hawkers in Buenos Aires at the end of the XIX century. They were made at the same factory and had similar veneer sides, which the hawkers decided to use as outside ads. As soon as they were pressed for time and money, they ordered some simple two-color pictures with curls in them. The advertisements worked, but every trader wanted to stand out, increase awareness and enlarge brand experience. That’s why the pictures got their berries, flowers, portraits, slogans and disclaimers. Finally, the strokes and letters were everywhere: in the cafes, on the book covers, monuments, coffins and prostitute’s sacrum.


The story of the development of fileteado is very interesting. There were some inscriptions on the wagons like “Great soap sold at a low price”, but the hawkers had to pay the tax for large inscriptions, so the letters were so small that one could hardly read them. But the pictures got goldilocks and ivy instead.

The first fileteadors were Italian, and the basis of the style was the imitation of some popular art styles. It has changed greatly since then, but even now one can see some features of art Nouveau and art-deco in the pictures. While honing their skills, artists added some local coloring, new elements and tried new techniques.


As soon as the immigrants from Europe who made filetes longed for their Motherland, the theme of the pictures got its marine variations. Later, when fileteado became the official style of Argentina, the ships were replaced by the national flag of the country. All the flowers and plants drawn were Argentine, too. 

These are some features of filete style:

  1. Detailed elaboration. One can hardly see the background.
  2. Bright colors.
  3. Shadows and shades modeling
  4. Fancy and gothic prints
  5. Possession of symmetry
  6. Each finished element is framed
  7. Symbolism

Some of them are the part of the origin of the style, others are peculiarities that fileteado got in the making.


Fileteado today is generally recognized as art. This is a sort of Argentine khokhloma or the art of Zhostovo, an object of national pride. You can find it everywhere.

According to Alfredo Genovese, a famous fileteador, it’s not bad to benefit from art, if you can create art. People love fileteado, why not decorate trainers for them?”

And that’s true. What can be more sincere than one’s love for own culture?