Feb 22, 2020 · 2:37 PM

Date 2007
Image dimensions 210 x 210 cm
Technique/material Oil on canvas
Credit Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Margit and Rolf Weinberg Collection
Inv. no. SK15015
Alastair MacKinven

Oreverfay Icsay

The title of this painting, “Oreverfay Icsay,” by Alastair MacKinven (born 1971 in Clatterbridge, GB) sounds like a kind of secret code. It also has a mysterious composition. Three layers of ascending and descending block forms are pushing toward each other, suggesting a black center that is closed within itself. This effect is enhanced by bright colors interspersed with black, white, and gray. Is this the beginning or the end of several paradoxical spatial sequences in which our eyes search for orientation without success? The picture is part of a series of works by the British artist titled “Et Sick In Infinitum (End Is Forever).” It was inspired by the idea of impossible stairs forming a continuous loop developed by Lionel and Roger Penrose. The two mathematicians (father and son) presented their thought experiment to the scientific world for the first time in 1958. Since then, this example of paradoxical architecture called Penrose stairs or Penrose steps has continued to inspire many people mathematically and artistically, including the master illustrator M.C. Escher, who created his famous lithography “Klimmen en dalen” [Ascending and descending] in 1960.
MacKinven, who lives and works in London and studied at Goldsmiths Art School in London and in Canada, developed this idea further by creating his own pictorial concept based on a contemporary aesthetics. Rendered with expressive energy, his paintings draw the beholder into a pictorial landscape that keeps their eyes moving relentlessly. His exploratory works – rendered in large formats and without frames – are based on precisely planned constructions that challenge us to find answers to the constantly changing riddle of the deceptive nature of human perception. While MacKinven’s variations on this theme offer many different interpretations, he also regards this group of works as a metaphor for the self-referentiality of the art scene, in which all artists must assert themselves to survive. As an artist in the post-postmodern zeitgeist, MacKinven experimented with many different media – including performative installation, video, photography, and text – before returning to a freer style of painting.

Margit Weinberg Staber




With financial support by:

Lotteriefonds Canton of Zurich

Baugarten Stiftung
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Dr. Adolph Streuli-Stiftung
Stiftung Kunstsammlung Albert und Melanie Rüegg



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Feb 22, 2020
2:30:00 PM CET