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An Interview with Antonella Manganelli:By Parinaz Ziai Bahadori

Antonella Manganelli is one of the original 4 artists that inspired Grazia Montalto when she founded Art4Us Coop back in 2020. She is the mastermind and curator for this group’s newest exhibition now on view at the Gallery B in Bethesda, Maryland. The multimedia show is titled “Threads of Connection” and is inspired by the “invisible threads that draw the charts of our lives.”

The show’s title and brief sparked so much beautiful and interesting work and was very well received at the opening reception this past weekend. It will be at Gallery B until March 3, 2024, so be sure to visit if you live in the Washington, DC area. 

I asked Antonella to answer a few questions about her life and her art.

Tell us about your journey as an artist. When did you start?

Art has always been in my life since I was a child. My father loved to paint, play piano, and write poetry in his spare time from work, and he inspired in me the same passion for art. My artistic journey has evolved during the years, starting in my green years when I was a student and had my first exhibitions around Italy, then moving forward with a creative career in graphic design and advertising, becoming a mother and finding time to paint and to be involved in the art world with art galleries… until I lost my mother and my artistic vision changed radically. Painting helped me to recenter and rebuild myself, and my artistic journey interwove with my spiritual journey.

What is your favorite medium?

Acrylic on canvas as base medium, with addition of others mixed mediums like pouring media, gel, gloss, and black lava. Sometimes I add elements of nature like sticks, wood, sand, or stones, and stiches with threads. I like to create texture and using this variety of materials helps me to direct attentions beyond the canvas, in both the figurative and real sense.

“Meet me at the Shimmering Gates”

Acrylic, pouring medium, paper, gel, back lava on canvas 

By Antonella Manganelli

What is the feeling you are trying to create in your work?

My paintings focus on the human journey and nature. A surreal vision of the world in which Humans and the Above are connected through Nature. Addressing themes of opposite conditions like war and peace, instability, and balance, I try to represent our human duality, and the struggles we all encounter to meaningfully pursue our terrestrial journey.  

People and spiritual connections are my inspiration, and my feeling comes alive on the canvas almost unexpectedly. The meaning of a painting is unveiled to me stroke after stroke. 

“Rising with Autumn”

Acrylic, Wooden Sticks, Treads, on canvas

By Antonella Manganelli

Tell us about your profession as a rare book dealer. 

I specialize in illustrated art books from the artists of 19th and 20th century. My books are a combination of words and art. The intense poems by poets like Eluard, Crevel, Hugnet and others, are accompanied with etchings, lithographs, or drawings by Picasso, Matisse, Mirò, and other artists.

Some of them are from times of war, some from the pop up or surrealist movements, or portfolios which hold multiple works from one artist, or several artists that collaborated to the same project… 

The historical setting is vast, and these unique books have the power of a time machine: you can jump between time observing, reading, and holding them.

It’s a privilege for me to hold them in my hands, and the immense joy behind my work as bookseller.


One of Antonella’s favorite books by Matisse:  Pasipahe le chant de Minos. 1944 with linocuts by Matisse to learn more of the book you can check the full description here

Any interesting stories in this world - books that you have found and sold? 

The first sale happened a month after my mother passed. It was an important sale, and since then we have become seriously involved in bookselling. I like to think that my mother showed me a path to pursue a new professional journey. Since then, we have sold important books to museums and contribute to important private collections; our books have found a new home at Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York, Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Fundación Miro Mallorca, Benaki Museum in Athens, Fundación Thyssen-Bornemisza in Barcelona…

Where do you find your books? 

The majority of the art and artist’s books are from France, our books come mostly from Europe, from collectors, and renowned auction houses.

Tell us about your journey from Italy to the United States. 

Was tough!

Tell us about your ideas for this latest exhibit that you have organized and curated for the Art 4 Us Cooperative.

During my walks, I connect with nature and the Above and in that space, I find my inspiration. Connection is the word that came to me during this past summer, walking, observing, and thinking of life. I expanded the concept slowly, reflecting on the meaning of the word and how it applies to our daily life. I found a connection as a lifeforce for Art4Us and in what we do as group.  Then the magic happened: the theme came out, and we all connected to make exhibitions a reality. There is always a collective effort to make things happen, I envisioned and together we made it real.

What are some things you can’t live without? 

On the lighthearted side: Bread, Pizza and Pasta 😉

Anything else you’d like for us to know about you?

Thank you!

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