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Spirituality in modern art and its relationship with the Catholic Church

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See is currently participating with its own pavilion at Venice’s 55th Biennale D’Arte, a prestigious international art exhibition held every two years in the lagoon city.
The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, says this decision was taken because the Holy See wishes to build up an authentic dialogue between religion and contemporary art. Father Peter Larisey is a Canadian Jesuit and expert on religion and modern art who spoke to Vatican Radio’s Jean Baptiste Cocagne en route to visit the Venice Biennale.

Listen to the extended interview with Father Larisey: RealAudioMP3

Father Larisey praises Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi for commissioning outside artists to prepare installations for the Holy See's pavillion at the Venice art festival and also for the Cardinal’s “humility” in acknowledging that he himself “has so much to learn” when it comes to the field of contemporary art. He says an authentic dialogue, if it’s really going to happen, “is between two people who each believe they might learn from each other.”

Father Larisey criticizes those who often write off contemporary art because its message and themes are not always obvious to the uninformed eye: “One mustn’t dismiss a painting because you don’t understand it.” He says his own experience of working with modern artists and preparing exhibitions has taught him that there is the sense of the sacred in contemporary art: “There is a lot of spirituality among modern artists .. even if they do not go to church or to synagogues.”


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