Chris DeRubeis’ style—“Abstract Sensualism®”—is entirely his own. With a sleek, soft, and organically flowing aesthetic, DeRubeis artwork is earnestly collected around the world.
DeRubeis believes his work can alter the way people perceive contemporary art, and challenges art lovers to enter a world of celestial abstraction and shimmering light created by pigments, flames, and flying sparks.
Born in 1978 in Santa Clarita, California, DeRubeis showed an early proclivity for drawing. His family quickly recognized and fostered this talent, particularly his grandfather, who spent time on the weekends working with DeRubeis to develop his artistic skills.
At age 13, DeRubeis’ grandfather gave him his first airbrush, and after watching him use it, proclaimed DeRubeis would be the artist he had always dreamed of becoming himself. Even at the young age of 16, DeRubeis put his artistic skills to use. He earned money airbrushing shirts at Six Flags Theme Park and was able to purchase his own vehicle in cash. At 17, he became the shirt store’s manager and ran the whole show.
DeRubeis often found himself drawing during math tests or sketching landscapes where his instructors expected essays. Teachers scolded him for not concentrating on his studies, but this did little to deter him from becoming an artist after graduating in 1996.
At age 18, DeRubeis attended the Pasadena Art Center and the Associates in Art School in Sherman Oaks, California. To pay for his education, he once again took up airbrushing, working for a motorcycle builder in Los Angeles to paint custom motorcycles.
While in art school, DeRubeis realized that he didn’t want to duplicate any of the styles he was being taught. Instead, DeRubeis set out to find a style that fully represented his artistic vision. One day, while grinding the base paint off a motorcycle’s gas tank, he discovered something unique: the exposed metal was intricately patterned and reflected light in a unique way.
Inspired, DeRubeis began experimenting in his parent’s garage with different tools to manipulate the way light reacted with metallic surfaces. This included combining chemicals, pigments, and fire to create an entirely unique reaction. After destroying his parent’s garage and nearly blowing up the house, Abstract Sensualism® was born.
“It’s something that feels like it’s actually alive and has energy,” DeRubeis says.
After 10 years of experimentation, DeRubeis developed and refined what is now known as Abstract Sensualism®. It didn’t take long before his innovative style was embraced by galleries across the country. His style is now a registered art form.
“All art should inspire and evoke emotion. Art should be something you can actually feel,” DeRubeis says.
DeRubeis continues to reside in California with his family.
A critical aspect of DeRubeis’ Abstract Sensualism® is his medium of choice: metal. His technique involves painting and manipulating its surface with a mixture of chemicals, power tools, and other techniques.
The metal panels he uses range from aircraft aluminum to precious metals like silver, gold, brass, and copper.
“I favor metal because I can combine a form of sculpture as the foundation for my expression, and have found a way to enhance my ability to communicate emotions more intently,” DeRubeis says.
As part of the process, DeRubeis subjects his metal to flash freezing and intense fire. DeRubeis says this technique creates textures that resemble stone or marble, something he couldn’t reproduce unless exposing the metal to extreme elements.
After creating his desired textures, DeRubeis applies layers of paint to build up the image, and then brushes the artwork with a final protective coating. The final result is artwork that gives the illusion of movement when spectators view it from various angles.
DeRubeis’ technique doesn’t allow him to create limited edition works, meaning every artwork from DeRubeis is unique. The subject matter or title of two works may be the same, but the grinds are never identical and his chemical concoctions react differently each time. As a result, DeRubeis describes his technique as “controlled chaos.”
“I have control over it, but not total control,” he says.