"Daniel Rycharski: Fears" is an overview of the work of an artist who has developed an independent form of collaboration with the local community in his hometown of Kurówko. He has come up with a singular proposal for artistic activity by sparking discussion on issues of identity and the limits of membership within a religious community. Through his works, he manages to convey seemingly contradictory experiences: as an artist and believer, a gay man working within a conservative society to create a new means of emancipation from outdated forms of religion. This cross-section of Rycharski’s works is part of the museum’s programming initiative to pursue a new lexicon for describing the world around us and draw attention to some of the most interesting and radical artistic attitudes of our time.
Over the course of his studies at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, Rycharski began to examine the visual culture and identity of contemporary rural areas. Since then, his works have illustrated a more complex image of the countryside as he began seeking out forms of expression for alternative social experiences and visions. The lessons from Kurówko remain a touchstone for Rycharski in his approach to art and communication with audiences. His personal experience and family situation serve as a point of departure for the artist to take up more universal themes relevant to the perspective of a society experiencing conflicts connected with the return (or endurance) of religion as an instrument of political mobilisation and polarisation. As an artist cooperating with diverse groups, such as agricultural and religious associations, a social club of rural housewives, and LGBT+ activists, he wrestles with numerous social fears and prejudices in his works.
Rycharski’s bold approach to faith and Christianity, which has no equivalent in Polish art, is currently the driving force of his artistic practice. The pieces brought together for the purposes of the exhibition tell the story of an artist who has shifted from a desire to organise a grass-roots revolution and achieve equal rights for LGBT+ individuals within the Church to the determination to practice his faith according to his own rules. Grounded in religion by way of various institutions and family members, he takes a given set of concepts and values and pursues a new version of a liberation project that would embrace outcasts. It is a project he calls ‘Christianity without religion’.