Dennis Mukai is widely recognized for his published paintings of beautiful women. As a contributing artist, his paintings were featured monthly in Playboy magazine. His subjects have included Pamela Anderson, Tia Carrere, Jennifer Flavin, Janet Jones Gretsky, Paula Barbieri, Kimberley Hefner, Mimi Rogers and Linda Sobek. His numerous one-man shows throughout the United States consistently sold out his paintings, limited edition prints and posters.
A graduate of Art Center College of Design and technically trained as an illustrator and graphic designer, Mukai's client list has included Levi's, Volvo, Honda, Coca-Cola, Mattel, Disney, the March of Dimes and DirecTV. His works have garnered awards from the Society of Illustrators, the Creative Black Book, ADLA, Print, and Communication Arts.
Mukai crossed over into photography after his years of shooting models for his paintings. Inspired by Edward Steichen, George Hurrell, and Albert Watson, artists in the past who have successfully made this transition, Mukai has been no exception in his ability to translate his vision into a different medium. In 1997, Mukai art directed and photographed the one-sheet for the Academy Award Winner for Best Live Action Short Film, Visas and Virtue. Focusing mainly on celebrity portraiture, his subjects have included Macy Grey, Ice T, Keanu Reeves, Kid Rock, Ziggy Marley, Robbie Robertson, John Fogerty, T Bone Burnett and Duran Duran to name a few.
Very early in his career Mukai had the honor of illustrating the cover for Playboy Jazz Festival. Mukai was asked to design the official US-Japan Expo poster in 1996. Freelancing as creative director and marketing advisor for ICON Shoes, Inc., from 1998 to 2000, Mukai established the identity of this unique start up company featuring artsists’ work on shoes. Mukai led the creative for Progressive Brands, Inc. in branding and bottle designs for HAN Asian Vodka and Kigen Sake. In 2005, Mukai was selected to create the official poster for the U.S. Tennis Open and the 107th Lunar Year Festival poster for Chinatown LA in 2006.
In recent years Mukai has successfully made yet another transition - into the world of fine art. He unveiled his new works at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica at the Robert Berman Gallery in the summer of 2008. Often mistaken for photographs, Mukai’s new works are painstakingly created using only sandpaper to remove layers of paint to gradually reveal the white of the gessoed surface, an original technique he developed and perfected through trial & error. Inspired by primitive photos from the advent of photography, Dennis' realistic yet distressed images trigger the emotions of recollection. Renowned art critic, Peter Frank expresses, "Mukai's paintings manifest a reality that exists within our minds, a reflection, not on what we see or know, but how we see and know it."
Technically uncompromising while maintaining his evocative visual sense, Mukai approaches his projects today cohesively integrating his talents as artist, designer and photographer.