Feeling Good: Joy Yamusangie transforms a gallery into a cool fictional jazz club
The NOW Gallery in Greenwich is currently undergoing an exciting transformation by British visual artist Joy Yamusangie. Titled Feeling Good, the space has become a fictional jazz club which celebrates the artist's trans identity.
Running from now until 5 June, Feeling Good is NOW Gallery’s Young Artist Commission of 2022. The venue, which is part of the ongoing regeneration of the Greenwich peninsula, has been given a striking visual overhaul which sees it become a fictional jazz club. The walls are even adorned with a series of paintings on paper and fabric which are inspired by the ephemeral conversations and moments inside the club.
As well as capturing the vibe of retro jazz clubs, Feeling Good is also a symbol of gender euphoria. It specifically speaks to Yamusangie's own experience with understanding and celebrating their trans identity and their journey with learning music.
As part of Yamusangie's profoundly autobiographical practice, bold colours and vibrant self portraiture take centre stage, and Feeling Good is no exception. Functioning as a distinct act of self appreciation, as well as acknowledging other core elements such as memory and community, Yamusangie is able to explore Congolese diaspora from a highly personal perspective.
The artist's explorations of race, identity and representation also stem from a place of intimacy, as they investigate socio-political issues within the microcosm of their own community.
"I was inspired by the main character in the book Trumpet by Jackie Kay which I later learnt was based on the real life story of musician Billy Tipton," Yamusangie explains. "Thinking of how music, specifically Jazz, allowed both the fictional character and the real musician Billy to find a home for themselves."
NOW Gallery Curator Kaia Charles adds: "The appeal of this exhibition is the subtle dialogue between Yamusangie's artworks, jazz notes and the vivid, fictional spaces these elements inhabit. The work beautifully chronicles the artist’s personal journey, whilst creating truly emotive spaces that will resonate broadly."
Yamusangie's previous projects have included a public art installation commissioned by Tate Collectives, the London Borough of Culture award and the cover for the 2021 Penguin edition of C. L. R. James' Minty Alley.
Joy's work was also selected for the 2021 RA Summer Show. Their work has collaborated with a number of influential brands including Paul Smith and Gucci.