“Our methodology has always been about deconstructing imagery and rebuilding it anew piece by piece.”
The two American artists behind the name "FAILE", Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, find inspiration in the visual universe of their childhood. A universe teeming with references to Hollywood, Spaghetti Westerns, 1980s comics, children's stories, as well as pointing to advertising imagery and landmark events in recent American history.
In this vast iconography, the two artists cut out fragments, transform them, combine them in countless different ways. As in a lego construction game, images, text and patterns are boldly rearranged and recomposed, bringing about temporal and contextual collisions. An approach reminiscent of the art of collage.
The duo often brings back into play elements of their past works. Patterns, sentences, characters keep on reappearing, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background of their creations. Taking a step back to embrace the work of FAILE in its totality is like being faced with a great symphonic fresco, where the same themes keep coming up over and over in endless variations. "The idea that the elements fit together to form a whole that we don't necessarily perceive at the outset is there in everything we do," say the artists.
Everything in the colorful world of FAILE is in perpetual motion, in a state of constant self-update where the more recent works expand on and add complexity to the earlier works. In the end, these cross-references make up a reflection of American—should we say Western?—pop culture. But a reflection one finds altered, turned inside out like a glove in such a way that the archetypes and the structures at play in our popular representations seem to be brought to light.
Versatile artists, Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller handle with the same ease techniques as different as painting on canvas and screen printing, wood carving and poster making, sculpture and monumental murals. They skillfully blur the presumed boundaries between fine arts and decorative arts, between illustration and graphic design. It is the street however which remains the artists’ playground of choice. After all, the public space tends to evolve through the endless rewriting of a collective narrative, something that can be said of the work of FAILE, too. "Our murals," say the artists, "become the bearers of the stories that shape the identity of the city, and, in turn, reflect these stories back to the city, like a mirror."
FAILE (anagram of "A Life", their first pseudonym) is an American artist duo formed by Patrick McNeil (1975) and Patrick Miller (1976). Iconic artists, their work is regularly shown in prestigious institutions like the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg, or the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. The two artists live in New York.