Twelve young artists in Mumbai are striving to change the way we look at masks through their exhibition Mask Factor.

Click here to view a slideshow on the exhibition that redefines the aesthetics of masks

Mask Factor, which begins on Wednesday at Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery, will exhibit 26 masks over seven days. At a primary level, the masks are substitutes for conventional rectangular canvases. Exhibition curators Avinash Gupte and Rajiv Punater say they wanted to hold a painting exhibition which was 3D, but not an installation, and therefore zeroed in on masks. Mask Factor fulfils this primary task. The masks, ranging from 1-5ft in height and made of fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP), manage to break the monotony of flat paintings. At a secondary level, they breathe new life into decorative masks.

Traditional African masks and those used in Indian dances such as Kathakali have limited our perception of what can be captured on a mask. Some of Mask Factor’s exhibits are in line with convention, others rebel against it. Deepak Joshi’s mask, which depicts the duality of personality by depicting the male and female aspects in a face, is in keeping with convention, while Anirban Dasgupta’s mask, which redefines Edvard Munch’s The Scream, goes against convention. Dasgupta’s mask duplicates Munch’s curvy strokes but has several screaming figures, unlike Munch’s original, which had just one.

Artists such as Hemant Sathe, who paint a cityscape resting on a lotus, and Kinnari Sanghavi, who paints the festival of kites, have used mask as a canvas. But there are also works by Sachin Tonape and Sachin Khondalkar, who uphold the basic function of the mask but mesmerize with minimalist brushstrokes.

Mask Factor, which Gupte and Punater plan to take around the country, is worth a look.

Mask Factor , an exhibition of paintings on masks, will be held from 24 February to 2 March at Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery, Nariman Point, Mumbai.