Faniya Shevchuk
1925 - 2019
Faniya Akramovna Shevchuk (née Gareeva) was born in Murtazino village of the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925. In 1937, her mother took her to Yakutia, where she moved to follow her husband. At the time, the repressive state apparatus was running at full capacity: the North had become a large labor camp for “enemies of the people,” as well as a shelter for those whom this apparatus had not yet reached. The same year, both the artist’s grandfather Amudaris and her future husband’s grandfather were executed: the former for his refusal to accept the Soviet regime, and the latter for having served in the Tsarist Army.
In the North, Faniya graduated from high school, then studied to become a radio operator, sang in an amateur talent group, and edited a stengazeta—literally “a wall newspaper,” this was a handmade one-page periodical made by and for a collective of workers or students. She was heavily influenced by talking to exilees—a lot of them were highly educated and cultured people. As the preface to Shevchuk’s 1993 catalogue reads, one of these exilees, not mentioned by name, brought History of Painting by Alexandre Benois to Yakutia (one of the volumes can be seen at the exhibition). After their release in 1953, the book was given to Faniya Akramovna as a gift.
Faniya started working from the early age of 15. As a radio operator, she navigated the Laptev sea and received a medal for being a Merited Polar Explorer. Later, she married Yulian Sosfenovich Shevchuk, a USSR Ministry of Trade employee who worked for the Government Acquisition department. He was of Ukrainian descent. The family moved to Magadan, where Faniya was planning to apply to art school but never did for unknown reasons. In 1957, she gave birth to son Yuri in Yagodnoe village of Magadan region; a little later, daughter Natalya and son Vladimir were born. In 1964, the family moved to Nalchik, where Faniya Shevchuk started working at an amateur art studio and had her first exhibition. In 1970, the family moved to Ufa, and in 1974, Faniya Akramovna started a job at the Painting and Drawing department of the Bashkir State Pedagogical University; meanwhile, she studied art herself. She was 48 years old at the time.
Faniya Shevchuk’s early works have a notable graphic quality and a desire to render a likeness of their subjects, both animate and inanimate. In the late 1970s, after a new trip to the Far North, her artistic practice changed as she started to engage with color, form, and space differently. It was probably the reason why the artist started turning to the landscape and still life genres more and more frequently—and some of her works can be safely called abstractionist.
In the 90s, Shevchuk moved to Saint Petersburg with her son Yuri; there, they lived on the Sinopskaya Embankment. It was here, as it often happens away from one’s homeland, where she came to the realization of her connection with the Bashkir culture. This was reflected in her artworks that gained a certain decorativeness: brighter colors and ornamental elements emerged, and national craft objects, such as fabrics and kitchenware appeared in her still lifes.
The artist spent the last years of her life in Ufa. She passed away in 2019.