April 30 to June 4, 2022
Tibor de Nagy Gallery is pleased to present Donald Evans – Philatelic Counter, the fifth presentation of the artist’s work at the gallery and the first at the 11 Rivington Street location.
Donald Evans (1945-1977) made a singular body of work consisting of watercolor stamps of imaginary countries. This exhibition will include two dozen of these works as well as two examples of never before exhibited preparatory works. Evans created most of his work in Amsterdam where he had settled and before his untimely death in a fire at age 31, he had painted almost 4000 stamps. In the decades following his death, his body of work has held an outsized significance and cultlike following. We are grateful to Bill Katz, the executor of the Estate of Donald Evans, for his help in putting this exhibition together.
Evans began painting stamps of imaginary countries as a child and a novice stamp collector, and revisited and developed the concept as an adult. After graduating Cornell University, he worked for a time for the architect Richard Meier in New York City. Growing frustrated, he left that career in 1972 and moved to Europe. He eventually settled in Amsterdam where he and a friend fixed-up an old warehouse as their home. That same year he made 561 stamps representing 20 imagined countries. All the works were made, postage stamp size, in watercolor using exclusively a number two Grumbacher brush, a method that allowed him to be able to travel with all of his painting materials.
Evans’ imaginary countries all have quirky histories, geography, and customs. These stamps represent a kind of journal, in them they celebrated his world and friends and everything that interested him. For example, he loved the sound and feel of dominos so he created the Republic of Dominos, (pictured above) whose capital is Boisivoires. Other countries have names such as Tropides Islands, Achterdijk and Katibo and can portray local neighborhoods or exotic colonial locations reached by long sea voyages. In many he pays homage to his friends, such as the country of Yteke, refering to Yteke Waterbolk, a dancer and friend who he named Queen of the nation.
Evans had a large collection of visual information in books and photographs as sources for his work. Sung-Ting gets its name from a type of Chinese ceramics that Evans found beautiful. The country Sabot is named for the wooden Dutch shoe and one set of Sabot stamps illustrates local mushroom specimens (pictured above.) Another regional stamp Stein (pictured below), a literary dictatorship with 100% literacy, refers to an actual small Dutch town and also one of his favorite authors. He had many books on windmills, mushrooms, flowers, old ships, planes, birds and fruits and vegetables which would make their way into the stamps. The artist recorded each stamp series in his Catalogue of the World, organizing the work as one would an actual stamp collection.
Donald Evans was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1945. He received a BA in Architecture from Cornell University in 1969. In the 1970s he had many one person exhibitions internationally, including several at Hester van Royen Gallery, London and Fischbach Gallery, New York. A retrospective exhibition titled The World of Donald Evans was organized in 1980 by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam with a catalogue by Willy Eisenhart.