Two for the (artistic) road

Over the summer, we caught up with artists Chris DeRubeis and David Najar — or rather, their work — during a presentation at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester by Park West Gallery, which presents art exhibits and sales in hotels and on cruise ships around the world.

DeRubeis has patented an Abstract Sensualism, creating fluid nudes — as well as works in other genres — on various kinds of metal that he manipulates with chemicals, paints and even power tools.

Najar describes his bold landscapes as Contemporary Expressionism, using textures, patterns and saturated colors applied with rubber brushes to capture imagined scenes. They’re the same techniques he uses to create his figures and still lifes. 

We asked them each recently to describe their work and lives as artists: 

Chris DeRubeis

Describe your work as you would to a potential client.

“My paintings appear 3D with movement that comes to life as you walk past….The painting is constantly shifting, moving with the light source.  No two paintings can ever be made exactly the same way. They are all unique to themselves.” 


What made you decide to become an artist?

“Ever since I was young, I felt I was good at it.  People would tell me I was good at art so it made me feel good to paint and create things. I live to paint and love the feeling of people enjoying my art. I experimented with all types of art forms as a child and the passion just grew stronger and stronger as I grew up.”

 Tell us a little about your background.

“I was all self-taught and had lots of struggles along the way. It was hard to break into the art world when I was young. I basically went broke, down to nothing. My wife worked two jobs. I did all types of freelance art jobs — anything to get me the income to do another art show event.  

 “There wasn’t a person to teach me my style.  It was all created in my parent’s garage when I was 20 years old. I titled my style of art Abstract Sensualism back then.  It is now a registered trademark and the way people describe my style of works. I sell my art through Park West Gallery and many international locations, including my own galleries (in Key West, Florida; Scottsdale, Arizona; Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Lahaina, Maui, and Ko Olina, Oahu, both in Hawaii).”   

 What’s next for you?

“New gallery locations. I just opened another new location this month in Maui — DeRubeis Fine Art of Metal Gallery Maui. I also opened a winery and vineyards in Northern California. I have a passion for wine as well and all the bottles have my artwork.”

 David Najar

Describe your work as you would to a potential client.

“I describe nature as a subject that is simultaneously in perfect harmony, full of beauty and near God. My artwork seeks to capture this indescribable balance with a serene combination of movement and color, mixing imagination with reality. I call this Contemporary Expressionism. I do not base my scenes on actual places, but about 40 percent of my technique leans toward abstraction….I borrow aspects from reality and combine them in my imagination.”

What made you decide to become an artist?

“I taught Krav Maga for 20 years. During my many conversations with (founder) Imi Lichtenfeld, (he) often told me that I would be surprised by what I’ll find inside me. This prophetic musing came to be when I visited a museum where, upon viewing a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, I felt my passion for art reawaken and decided I had to learn how to paint.

“I was in my 30s when I realized that I wanted to create art for a living. I signed up for painting classes, instructing Krav Maga by day and painting at night. After a year of classes, my art teacher praised my abilities but asked me to leave the class because of my independent style.

“I didn’t let the critique deter me, though. In 2003, renowned Israeli artist Itzchak Tarkay began to mentor me. The two of us painted together until Tarkay’s passing in 2012. I also learned from Moshe Rosenthalis, a Lithuanian artist who was a soldier and illustrator during World War II before immigrating to Israel.”

Tell us a little about your background.

“Born in 1962, I grew up in Israel. My teachers recognized my artistic skills, but my family was less supportive of my talent. In my family, there was no such thing as an artist or painter. The closest thing to a painting we had at home was a tapestry.

“I attended Bar-Ilan University from 1987 to 1990, where I earned a bachelor of science in social sciences. With my artistic pursuits stymied, sports took over my life. This eventually led me to an exercise facility that also served as a school for Krav Maga, the hand-to-hand combat system used by Israeli defense and security forces. I took an interest in the martial art, and soon after met Lichtenfeld….We became fast friends, despite an age difference of 50 years, and I endured intense training to become a coach and leading figure in Krav Maga.”

What’s next for you?

“I will be continuing to do both solo and group exhibitions with Park West Gallery around the world with my art.”

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