Born: Montreal, Quebec
Concordia University, BFA, Studio Arts, Major Intermedia & Cyber Arts (graduated with distinction)
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Price Range: $1200 - $4000
Born in Montreal, Reuel Dechene was removed from his native environment at the tender age of 10, when the rest of his family moved out of his urban NDG neighbourhood, and relocated to rural South Western Ontario. In his teen years he was greatly influenced by his artistic family and friends as well as strong outside influences of muscle cars, comic book art and General Idea.
In 1985 returning to Montreal to pursue a BA at Concordia University in Montreal, Reuel became very involved in the campus radio station, CRSG, hosting a variety of shows and taking on the role of rock and roll journalist for Reargarde Magazine. Unfortunately these activities were not financially rewarding. Seeking a playful and inexpensive way to decorate his seedy downtown apartment, he bought a bunch of xmas lights Boxing Day 1987 - a catalyst for his current practice. For a career change Reuel studied cabinet making, and was soon putting his newly developed fine woodworking skills to use at a custom furniture shop in Montreal. Within months, fearing for the safety of his ten fingers, Reuel left for opportunities in Ottawa, where he has resided since 1992.
1994 saw Reuel's first kinetic light sculpture "MORE" - 4 letters blinking in sequence, an obvious call for attention. "MORE" was soon (1996) followed by "PEEP", part of Eliza Griffiths' installation "PEEP: Beyond the Eye of the Beholder". Reuel's first solo exhibition, "xmas-lite" (a series of 3 and 4 letter words spelled out in blinking lights), drew a wonderful response and gained him the appreciation of heavy metal sculptor Gayle Hermick. In 1998 he collaborated with Gayle on the pieces "A String of Pearls" & "Stilettos" (these pieces being representations of a necklace and high heels, constructed primarily from auto parts) - which showed at the Carl Davis Gallery in Ottawa and then at Skol in Montreal. String of Pearls was the first time Reuel had used hubcaps as a medium, and has continued to dazzle viewers ever since.
The words I choose for my flashing light sculptures evoke associations with multiple meanings. They are often campy, kitschy, ironic or double entendres, or offensive to some and delightful to others. Armed with an array of power tools, soldering iron, voltage meter and a wire stripper, I adapt vintage Formica or hubcaps, miniature Christmas lights and retro technology to create animated light works. The sculptures spell out words one letter at a time in a dizzying array of flashing patterns. The works are synesthetic amalgamations of shape, colour and nostalgia.
There are similarities between my sculptural and video practices. Both rely heavily on iconoclastic approaches to examining contemporary culture. I take a guerilla approach to videos. Thus far I work alone, directing and often appearing in my videos. I create a persona for the camera, which I am shy about letting out in social situations, but I'm happy to release it in front of the camera. The images and sounds I share are loud and proud, like the colours and lights in my sculptures.