Robert Berman Gallery is pleased to present Abrasive Affirmations, featuring new paintings by Dennis Mukai. Diligently created, Mukai’s paintings are a unique process all his own. Often confused as photographs, Mukai’s paintings are a reductive process of sanding down a smoothly painted panel of masonite in order to utilize the mid-tones to develop the resulting image. The work is then finely finished with a varnish, leaving no trace of where the masonite begins and the varnish ends.
“The method of creating my paintings is subtractive. A paint brush is never used. The surface layer of dark paint is removed with sandpaper to reveal varying degrees of the white gesso surface underneath as opposed to the more traditional method of applying paint to a gessoed surface. The technique is slow and precise. The process of minutely abrading and distressing the two-dimensional surface to ‘sculpt’ the images becomes an obsessive meditation.
In this new series my paintings are an exploration of double entendres. The juxtaposition and ambiguity of my word play is intended to bring relief to the dark, evocative visuals. The humor is personal, intentional…and at times, abrasive.”