Fresh From Poland in cooperation with Bermondsey Project Space present the first group photography show that features works produced by LGBTQ+ artists born in Poland, with a particular focus on images exploring intimacy and interpersonal relationships.
The show celebrates the practice of ten emerging and mid-career artists: Pamela Bożek, Mateusz Cyrankowski, Mateusz Grzelak, Agata Kalinowska, Krystian Lipiec, Kinga Michalska, Oiko Petersen, Jerzy Piątek, Natalia Podgórska and Łukasz Rusznica. Unveiling material that has never been exhibited in the United Kingdom before, the show gives a rare opportunity to explore the different ways in which artists raised in Poland process and embrace their own sexuality. The exhibition consists of intimate portraits, snapshots, photographic diaries and art books.
Most of the selected photographs focus on portraying friends and lovers in everyday settings in an almost documentary way, aiming to tell real stories about people and relationships rather than simply creating beautiful images. No political comments are made. Some of the works are kept in a deadpan style, while others carry a strong emotional charge. Works are created in different styles and techniques, but what they share is a deep attachment to direct mature storytelling and maintaining a strong intimate relationship with subjects portrayed in a broad range of moods, but mostly as sexually charged creatures.
The works included in this show could not be displayed in Poland without being a political statement. The curators aim to present them the way there are: as beautiful, captivating works by talented photographers who were given the space to express themselves in an inclusive environment without prejudices.
Mateusz Grzelak’s work is part of a greater project that portrays Vlad, the artist’s Ukrainian boyfriend. He moved to Poland at the age of 17 to study. He started to be bullied by his family when they found out about his sexual orientation. The artist tries to depict the subject’s struggle with forming a new world around himself, between the conservative family where he finds no acceptance, and his own identity and emotional needs.