Photographed for Constellation by Anouska Beckwith
On her childhood:
I grew up in Ukraine with my grandmother, brother, and sister.
My life was simple in Ukraine, yet I always had dreams of discovering different cultures, people, and ways of life.
When I was 16, I moved to Paris alone and began my journey in foreign lands. My entrance into the art and fashion world began the moment I landed in Paris. There, I began to model, which took me all over the world. These trips awakened my senses both visually and creatively.
I began to find myself feeling bored of being in front of the camera—I wanted more. I went from museums to galleries, and even to being inspired by the different colors and textures of streets in Rome and Tokyo. Soon after, I met my (now) husband, who is an artist. I became his muse and somehow he inspired me to become an artist, too.
On life in Paris:
I went to art school at Parsons here in Paris. When I started, I had already taken part in the group exhibition at the Paris Museum of Photography in collaboration with Martin d'Orgeval, who is now a dear friend.
The idea of opening a gallery was always in the back of my mind. Many talented and inspiring people surrounded me.
Earth Gallery (my gallery) was created a year ago and exhibits new and established artists from different cultural backgrounds. The fundamental approach aims to promote international contemporary art, mainly focusing on paintings, photographs, and sculptures, as well as individual and group installations devoted to the integration of arts into every aspect of daily contemporary life. A few of my favorite female contemporary artists are Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, Alina Szapocznikow, and Louise Bourgeois.
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can get lost in the streets and never become bored. I love all of the museums. My house is located right by The Musée d'Orsay. The (historic) Café de Flore is also conveniently within walking distance from my home in Saint Germaine.
On the woman who inspires her:
My mother-in-law has been quite an inspiration for me. She was born in Iran and married into the Iranian royal family at a very young age. She survived loss and a revolution that turned her life into an indescribable upheaval. In exile, she has maintained her dignity and an open, forgiving heart—that inspires me. She has taught me that, no matter what challenges I face as a mother, as a wife, and as a working artist, I must always stay strong, dignified, and hopeful. For me, empowerment means exactly that: being strong, working hard, and never giving up on my dreams.
On leading a creative life:
The creative life is not an easy life. There is rejection, but you keep going…. and then there is success. Recently, Franca Sozzani (editor of Italian Vogue) passed away. She is yet another example of an empowered woman who never gave up and fought for her vision in a world where men still have more power. The main lesson: Never give up. ★
Anna Pahlavi is a Paris-based artist, former model, and founder of Earth Gallery, located in the heart of the city at 35 avenue Matignon. The gallery aims to create a dialogue between viewers, artists, and institutions.
Anna wears Damir Doma and a ring by Ladan Afshar.