On the 2nd of June 2006, Giovanni Bruzzi was appointed Official Knight of the Italian Republic for his Artistic Merits. He is the designer of the Excellent Gusto company logo. Giovanni tells us his incredible story…
I started painting when I was a boy, in the studio of Rodolfo Margheri, Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy. He taught me advanced painting techniques that are essential for a career as a painter like myself, a fanatic of figurative painting. My great-grandfather, Stefano Bruzzi, was a famous landscape and animal painter in the 1800’s, and I hope to become famous like he was.
My first solo exhibition was at Galleria L’Indiano, owned by Ottone Rosai.
I lived in Paris from 1960 to 1962 and I became an important member of the artistic scene during that time. I held a solo exhibition of great relevance at the Galerie du Foyer des Artistes in Montparnasse, under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture. I met the most important writers and artists of the time and it was then that I created two of my most important works: the portrait of the poet André Breton and a large painting dedicated to the famous drummer Kenny Clarke. Unfortunately, I earned very little from my work and it was not enough to live on while continuing to invest in painting, so I resorted to working as a faux-client in nightclubs, as well as a waiter in bistros and I became the “lookout person” for a Greek gang that bankrolled the illegal “three cards” game at the Châtelet Metro station.
After that, I came back home in Florence and joined the world of illegal gambling, this time on the house side. I worked only in illegal “5 star” casinos, called bische, in Florence, Montecatini Terme, Versilia and in Rome, at the Roulette Tables, Chemin de Fer, Trente et Quarrante, Baccarat, Craps, Zecchinetta and Poker. I also worked as a clandestine racecourse bookmaker in Rome, where I became an expert. Of course, the clientele that frequented my clubs were all adults and rich. Among the protagonists of that world I particularly remember my boss Renis, the Italo-American gangster Joe Adonis, the bookmaker “Er Criminale” and the super-cheater Albert “Il Marsigliese”. I did a portrait of each of them!
Finally, I was able to continue with my life as an artist because I had money to live on from the illegal work. Painting remained my goal. My network of famous artists, poets and intellectuals grew. Painting became my way to indulge in my talent and realise my dreams!
Over the course of my career, I participated in 50 National Awards and held more than 100 solo exhibitions in the most important Italian cities. I designed illustrations for noteworthy books on the subject of magic and mythology, sometimes reaching more than 100 individual illustrations per book. I wrote six autobiographical books about my immeasurably adventurous life.
I also worked in film. It’s incredible! The roads of Cinema and poker united! I wrote the screenplays for the poker scenes in the movies by Italian director Pupi Avati “Regalo di Natale” (“Christmas present”, it’s a cult movie today) and “La Rivincita di Natale” (“Christmas Rematch”), in addition to being the on-set advisor for those scenes. At this time I also created two large scale paintings of poker players, based on the actors’s portraits. On the Italian television networks RAI and Mediaset, I have guest-starred on major talk shows, like “Porta a Porta” and “Maurizio Costanzo Show“, as a witness of illegal gambling. I became a TV personality.
In 2002, I held another important exhibition at the Castel Sant’Angelo (The Mausoleum of Hadrian) in Rome, under the patronage of the Roman Museum. Finally in 2004, I was able to cross the oceans and start business relationships with galleries in Washington and New York.
In 2014, I completed a screenplay, based on an autobiographical book, for a major Hollywood studio. It will be developed into a movie with the working title “The Dark Side of La Dolce Vita” which will be played by famous actors.
In creating the logo for Excellent Gusto, I thought of using graphics that would “hit the mark”, like a target, incorporating the colours of the Italian flag.
The synthesis of my life is an old Tuscan proverb: “The world belongs to those who show up to get it!”.
My “double” life was a happy one, and I share it with my wife Paola, my son Diego, my daughter-In-law Vanessa and…my ever so loved grandson Leone!