KUROWKO, Poland — The Polish artist Daniel Rycharski sat in his childhood home recently and considered the idea of fitting in.
In many ways, Poland is a highly polarized country. On one side is the right-wing populist government of the Law and Justice party, with its many rural supporters, which purports to stand for “family values” and the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church; on the other is a more liberal opposition, which finds most of its backers in the country’s cosmopolitan cities.
“I’m stuck in the middle,” Mr. Rycharski said, sounding resigned. “I don’t have a place, really.”
Nonetheless, his work is the focus of a major exhibition running through April 22 at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
“Maybe the biggest and best art institution in Poland is making an exhibition of me right now, but I don’t feel part of the art community,” he said. “And the conservatives, they don’t attack me, but …”
He trailed off.
Mr. Rycharski, 33, makes large sculptural installations filled with religious and rural symbolism. His family and a handful of neighbors in Kurowko, in central Poland, take part in creating them, and most are displayed around the village before they are shown anywhere else. “Strachy,” for instance, a large-scale installation, was made with his grandmother and features dozens of colorful crosses with items of clothing sewn around them, then wrapped in barbed wire.
The show at the Warsaw museum, which includes “Strachy,” has been acclaimed by Polish critics. “It’s been a long time since such a multifaceted exhibition was shown,” Karol Sienkiewicz wrote in Gazeta Wyborcza, a liberal daily. With it, the museum had “hit the bull’s-eye,” he added.
But Mr. Rycharski said that, despite the positive reviews, he felt lonely. His art’s focus on religion and the countryside means that he is unfashionable in liberal art circles. The fact that he is gay — and that much of his art is about his sexuality — means he does not sit well with Poland’s conservatives either.
“Sometimes, I think the only place for me is this village,” Mr. Rycharski said.
Poland has a long tradition of “conservative avant-garde” artists who take a positive view of the church and of folk life, said Szymon Maliborski, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. They include performance artists such as Zbigniew Warpechowski, who once stuffed pages of the Bible into condoms to make a statement about society’s resistance to church teachings; and Teresa Murak, whose ritual processions in plant-covered clothing reflected an interest in the rhythms of nature.
But Mr. Rycharski’s art is different, Mr. Maliborski said, noting that it was not simply praising the church or Poland’s countryside — it was trying to change them.
Mr. Maliborski cited “Strachy” as an example. It was first installed in fields around Kurowko, the crosses meant to keep birds away, like scarecrows. But the artist collected the clothes sewn on the crosses from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Poland, and many of the garments had stories of struggle behind them. “Strachy,” which means “Scares” or “Fears,” could be read as a comment on the church’s lack of openness to those groups, Mr. Maliborski said.
“Daniel’s more interesting, and braver, than other artists,” he said. “It’s not so easy to work with such topics in the countryside.”
Mr. Rycharski does not hide his sexuality, even though he says it is a factor in his feelings of loneliness. For his interview in Kurowko, he wore a tracksuit modified to have rainbow stripes running down the legs.
He grew up surrounded by art, he said. His mother and uncle both painted and made small sculptures “for themselves, for the family.” He painted, too, and eventually left Kurowko to study art in the southern city of Krakow.
But Mr. Rycharski did not feel at home there. “When I was living in Krakow,” he said, “there was too much of everything: too many artists, too many buildings, too many monuments. When I came back here, there was nothing, so I can build everything in my head.”
His time in Krakow also made him realize the indifference of Poland’s art to the countryside. “Everyone thinks people in the village are stupid, dirty, angry and they have no culture,” he said. “I knew it was wrong.”
He wanted to make art that would change perceptions but that would also refresh a sense of community in the village, he said.
One of his most successful pieces was “Monument to a Peasant,” a sculpture dedicated to Poland’s small-scale farmers. It featured a trailer, with farming tools attached to it, painted black to represent the dismal mood of agrarian workers facing a host of financial struggles.
The mobile artwork has traveled around Poland and struck a chord in many places, particularly in rural areas.
The popularity of works like “Monument to a Peasant” gave Mr. Rycharski the confidence to explore his gay identity in art, with crusading works that put the church’s rejection of gay Catholics in the spotlight. For one piece, he took a quotation from the catechism that says gay people should be “accepted with respect,” and made it into a metal plaque. He asked several liberal churches to display it. When they refused, he stood outside one for 10 hours holding it.
Mr. Rycharski faces a struggle to change attitudes in Poland. The populist agenda of the governing Law and Justice party has made gay rights a central issue before elections later this year. In March, the party’s co-founder, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, spoke out harshly against same-sex marriage. Homophobic attitudes tend to be widespread in Poland, though the country’s first openly gay politician, Robert Biedron, started a new opposition party in February and has gained some traction and attention.
Wojciech Adamski, an amateur artist and firefighter from Sierpc, the nearest town to Kurowko, who has worked with Mr. Rycharski on several projects, said the focus on gay rights was important. “Daniel’s activities here can help other people who belong to the L.G.B.T. community, whom we don’t know about, find themselves, to feel they are accepted,” he said.
Mr. Rycharski said he had no intention of changing his approach, whatever problems it caused him. “If I can change Kurowko, Poland can change,” he said.
After the interview, Mr. Rycharski went for a walk along Kurowko’s one main road. As dogs barked, and someone burned garbage in a field, he talked about a future project.
He wanted to buy a house in the village and make it into a community space for lesbian, gay and transgender Christians, he said.
“I’m not sure it’s going to happen,” he said. “People might not be ready for it yet.”