Bruce Rubenstein Bares His Soul Through His Art

Bruce Rubenstein with his work. Photo: Courtesy.

Henry K. Long

New York native Bruce Rubenstein moved to Los Angeles in 1985. A high energy New Yorker, he got into the entertainment business…working with Mickey Rourke and then managing Andrew Dice Clay and executive producing Dice on Showtime.

In 1994, he wrote a movie about his life, Bullet. It starred Mickey Rourke (who played his older brother, Bart, a criminal junkie) Adrien Brody (who portrayed Rubenstein, was an artist junkie) and Ted Levine (played his younger brother, Brian, a disturbed combat-vet junkie). The nemesis named Tank (the drug dealer) was played by Tupac Shakur. The movie went on to become a 90’s cult classic.  


He started painting when he was five years old. His Mom was very encouraging of his art early on. In high school an art teacher spotted his talent and pushed him to keep painting. He continued to paint throughout his life.

Instead of working in series, Rubenstein prefers to allow his work to flow, so there is always a connection to one another, but at the same time each work stands alone. He, like many well-known painters such as Richard Prince and Gerhard Richter, Larry Poons refuse to get pigeon-holed into one style.

Rubenstein often frequents museums and some favorite exhibits include Jasper Johns at The Broad and Rauschenberg at LACMA. His biggest inspiration is the artist Mark Bradford. “That guy’s work is out of this world!!!  I’m in awe of what he does!” Cecily Brown is another artist whose work moves him. “I love Joe Bradley, George Condo is cool, Julie Mehretu is insanely amazing.”

“Reflections in a Golden Eye”. Oil, acrylic, enamel, fabric pieces, charcoal on canvas 65 x 114 inches.

When asked how his time working on his paintings correlates to his time working in Hollywood, he replied, “Art is Art…most visual arts, (TV, film) requires a collaborative effort from many different people. For the last couple of years, I was an executive producer on a Showtime series. It took over a hundred people working together to produce one episode. Even the showrunner is dependent on so many other people to bring his vision to fruition. Yes, he/she might have created the basic concept but it takes an army of people to bring it all together.”

He went on to say that he often creates his work in multiple layers…such as his collage piece, Reflections in a Golden Eye. “I created the base coat using swirls of different color enamel paints squeezed out through a feeding-tube syringe. Then I added various pieces of torn-up bed sheets and other assorted fabrics embedded into a thin layer of acrylic paste. The “Golden Eye” I’m referring to in the title is a reference to the Supreme Being, whatever the hell that might be. What is being reflected is the essence of a DNA strand taken from a chimpanzee as seen through a DMBA-210 Digital Compound Microscope. This is what happens when you stay up all night watching the Discovery Channel. And that’s without being on any medication!” 

Meet artist Bruce Rubenstein at Castelli Art Space (5428 W. Washington Blvd.) in Culver City.