Be yourself. It is the most precious thing if you want to live fully. Strangely, we are born free, but then we forget who we are. It is backward.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Giovanni Enrico Morassutti.
Giovanni Enrico Morassutti, also known as Giovanni Morassutti, is mainly an accomplished film actor and theater director exemplary of the Method acting approach with 22 years in the field. He is also a self-taught Neo-Expressionist visual artist, curator, and founder of the international art residency Art Aia- Creatives / In / Residence fostering Sustainability in the Arts and Climate Change Theatre. He left his hometown in Italy at 18, and since then, he has lived, studied, and worked in New York, Paris, Rome, and Berlin, among other places. He has been giving international talks and has written several essays, including the foreword to the Italian version of Strasberg’s book and “Strasberg Legacy”, which was also published, as an online exhibition, by Google Arts & Culture.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Iwas born in Veneto, Italy.
My family comes from the upper middle class.
On my father’s side, I am a member of the Morassutti family, a large patriarchal family of entrepreneurs originally from Friuli Venezia Giulia.
My paternal grandmother was an aristocrat, the daughter of Marquise Emilia Buzzaccarini, sister of opera singer Franco Zaccarini who changed his name as an artist. I belong to the creative branch.
I got my first name from my paternal grandfather, an architect.
He was a poetic person and stylish in appearance and often wore fedora hats and bow ties. He looked similar to one of his brothers: Bruno, also an architect who became internationally famous.
Being sensitive and creative and going my way makes me feel similar to them. On my mother’s side, my grandfather Eric was a self-made man of Polish origins who came to Germany and became a successful doctor. He married Ilse Schlichting, the daughter of a judge. They met at a field hospital during the second world war.
My middle name is Enrico because of him. On my mother’s side, I have a cousin Benjamin Piwko who is also an actor in Germany.
I grew up with my mother and sister since my parents divorced when I was 4. I suffered from it, even though I was a relatively happy child. I loved art and performing.
My hero was singer Michael Jackson. I danced like him at parties. I liked to be the center of attention. It made me feel seen, recognized, and appreciated.
I grew up in the city of Padua where I used to be very social and outgoing. I didn’t really like school.
After obtaining my high school diploma, I left my hometown and went to New York City to pursue my dreams.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always loved the creative process, and the lifestyle of artists.
I remember in high school discovering that I wanted to be an actor. I also got insights from an art history teacher, Rodolfo Bisatti. He was very creative, and he is a successful film director. I got influenced by my cousin Stefano Morassutti Vitale, an illustrator who lived in New York in the 90ies that I visited when I was 16. I am very grateful to him. He gave me another perspective on life, and thanks to him, I discovered New York, the city where I am about to return. Also, my best friend was a very talented artist. I had a group of friends who were artists too. I started to do some installations and painting while In high school. It was also and still is a way to express myself. I believe all art is therapeutic.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I would say that being invited as an artist and founder of Art Aia — Creatives In Residence at the TransCultural Exchange’s 2022 International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts: Create the Future in Boston and receiving a stipend to present my art projects has been a blast. I am very grateful to the artist Mary Sherman for this opportunity. Not only did I meet interesting people from all over the world, but it also allowed me to visit New York, where I had a very inspiring and productive time.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am developing my art practice thanks to the help of a friend, Andrea Cataudella. We share some themes in our work, such as loneliness.
He is a very talented Neo-expressionist artist. He is teaching me a lot about the creative process and painting techniques.
I am also collaborating as an art ambassador for the Arte Laguna Prize, an international art and design competition in Venice, Itay.
It is an honor to be a member of a distinguished organization such as MoCa. I deal with many creative institutions at an international level, such as galleries, art residencies, and, of course, other artists.
I am also working on a project about Climate Change art and performance. I am in the first phase of the creative process. I feel something on the move in my imagination. Finally, I am excited to move back to New York, where I have always felt free to be who I am.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Speaking about New York, I remember having a glass of white wine with avant-garde director Jonas Mekas in the east village during the summer in early 2000, together with my good friend Erica which I am happy to see again soon.
Also, my granduncle, Paolo Morassutti, was a very charismatic person. He was a successful entrepreneur who brought the German company Fischerwerke to Padua.
He used to drive luxury cars such as Ferrari and Rolls-Royce and make jokes but what was special about him was his sense of family. He cared about all the members. He was a very generous man and a real patriarch.
I remember a day when one of his employees came, in a van, to my house looking for me.
He said he had a letter on my uncle’s behalf.
I opened it, and there was a message in which he wished me good luck with my career, encouraging me to follow my dreams together with a 1000 US dollars travel check. I was 18 and about to move to New York. I felt so supported by him. I wish I could talk to him sometimes and ask for advice.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
Sure, I start with an idea or a vision. I imagine something that I want to create, and then I sketch. When I paint, I let my instinct flow. Lots of things inspire me. I would say that my personal experience is probably the principal source. Also, the work of other artists, attending a concert, or reading a book are good sources of inspiration.
I made a documentary film Personal Dream Space, a term conceived by my acting mentor John Strasberg.
It is the place where we imagine what we want to create. For example, an architect sees a bridge in his imagination, and then the work is to make it real. It all starts with a vision or a dream. As you know, I have deepened the study of Method acting and the Organic Creative Process, a conscious intuitive process where an artist makes the invisible world visible. I believe this is true in all forms. In my art practice, I always aim to express my conscious vision and what I have to say about life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I would say that I am trying to make people aware of the Climate Crisis by fostering sustainability in the arts. As a director, I work on Climate Change Theater, collaborating with Environmental associations such as Legambiente. I want to socially connect people to enforce a sense of community and equality. I believe that human beings in nature are empathetic and compassionate. Love is the main force, but unfortunately, we built a society based on other values like competition and aggressiveness. I was hoping the pandemic would have created some changes, which I don’t see enough.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
It is the most precious thing if you want to live fully. Strangely, we are born free, but then we forget who we are. It is backward.
Show your vulnerability.
I wished I didn’t have all these conditioning ideas of being strong. I feel complete and alive when I express my emotions and vulnerability.
Don’t look for approval.
Looking for approval is normal, but it can become a prison where you never feel you are enough.
Life is hard. It is serious, but it is like a playground if you think about it. Nothing is permanent.
It is the most important thing of all. Love towards yourself, others, or what you do.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love people to be free in the deep meaning of the word. I believe that everyone should be able to truly and fully be him or herself, which is very hard nowadays and probably has always been.
I believe art gives you moments when you can reach such a state, like being in harmony with nature. I guess my movement aims to connect these two spheres with great love.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
At the moment, I would like to have a private lunch with whoever will decide if I will get the artist visa to live and work in the US.
I would try to show him my desire and commitment to continuing to work in the area of my expertise in New York and LA.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I am not an Instagram person. I still use Facebook more often. I am also a Goodreads author, and my essays are on Academia which I guess can be considered social media.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!