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Sacred and Profane: The Art of Richard G. Cannuli

The Villanova Art Gallery Juxtaposes Spiritual Encounter and Aesthetic Enjoyment in "Sacred and Profane: The Art of Richard G. Cannuli, OSA"

October 2-December 18 2017

St. Rita's Cascia


Villanova, PA-This fall, visitors to the Villanova University Art Gallery are invited to explore the work of Villanova's own Rev. Richard G. Cannuli, OSA, professor of studio art, director of the Gallery, and curator of the University's art collection. Sacred and Profane: The Art of Richard G. Cannuli, OSA is an exhibit of icons (contemporary and mixed media icons), liturgical vestments, and watercolors created by Fr. Cannuli.

The exhibit opened on Monday, October 2 and there was a reception to meet the artist on Friday, October 20. Sacred and Profane continues to Monday, December 18. The Art Gallery is located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Convenient on-campus parking is available. Selected works from the exhibit may be previewed on the gallery's website at<>.

For the entirety of his professional life, Fr. Cannuli has been creating art that is inspired and motivated by the spiritual. Many of the pieces for which he is best known, including the vivid vestments he designs for clergy to wear as they lead congregations in prayer, are intended to be experienced communally. Each chasuble, stole, and cope is a wearable piece of artwork that enriches the experience of worship. In a gallery setting, viewers can better appreciate the drape of the fabric, the interplay between texture and color, the thoughtful incorporation of symbolism, and the intricate hand-sewn detail work that enhances the garments.

Fr. Cannuli's exquisite icons-paintings of Jesus, Mary, and other Roman Catholic saints, venerated and used as an aid to devotion-extend an opportunity for personal encounter with the sacred. The process of creating-referred to as "writing"-an icon is complex, beginning with a humble piece of wood that has been carefully shaped and prepared, and ending with an image that is a visual form of prayer. After first training as a painter and printmaker, Fr. Cannuli began his formal training as an iconographer in 1985. Fr. Cannuli's icons have been commissioned by parish communities and private individuals, and his work has earned him international renown. In 2013, his icon "San Augustin de Hippo" was presented to Pope Francis by the Augustinian order.

Fr. Cannuli's watercolors comprise the private observations and musings of an artist who experiences the world through the act of creation. The pieces included in Sacred and Profane date from 1980 to the present. Fr. Cannuli says, "When I told family and friends about this exhibit, they all urged me to exhibit my watercolors along with the religious and liturgical items. I had some watercolors that I kept for myself-I like to call it my 'portfolio work'-and many of these are drawings and watercolors in bound books, or odd size watercolors on paper. Most are medium to small in size. As I traveled, instead of a photo, I would do a drawing or a watercolor, all done on sight from the places I visited. These works were not meant for public viewing but for my private enjoyment. Now that I am of a certain age, I decided to let them go so that others might enjoy them as I have all these years. In some way they are like my children. I don't like to see them go, but it's time for them to go on and enjoy a place outside of the bound book."

Fr. Cannuli earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, his BFA at Villanova, and completed advanced studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He is trained as a painter and printmaker and he works in and teaches watercolor, oil painting, printmaking, and icon painting. He has been on the faculty of Villanova University since 1978 and has been full professor of Fine Arts since 2000.

As a professional artist, he has designed and worked with stained glass windows, fabric, mosaic, and liturgical furniture. He is a Certified Liturgical Design Consultant and has assisted cloistered religious communities with their choir and chapel spaces. He conducts workshops on the painting of icons, and he lectures world wide on liturgy and the arts. Fr. Cannuli has exhibited his watercolors in Italy, Spain, China, Russia, Belarus, and Greece-as well as throughout the United States. He has curated, judged, and organized exhibitions of art, as well as participated in round-table discussions. Working with specialists from Russia and Belarus, he has consulted on determining the symbolism of antique icons. For more information on his corpus of work, please visit<>.

The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. -11 p.m. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's website:<>.