adia sitdikova
1913 - 2000
Widely recognized and studied by the academic art community, works by Adia Khabibullovna Sitdikova can be found in museums and private collections and are often shown at various exhibitions. This, considering the artist’s lack of classic education and a quite late professional start, is an extraordinary case in the context of the Soviet art system.
Adia Sitdikova (née Khalitova) was born on December 12, 1913 in the village of Mordva (Tatar: Mordybiy; Vyatskaya Governorate, now part of the Republic of Tatartstan). She did not receive formal education apart from the three years from 1921 to 1924; then, upon her father’s insistence, she was forced to leave school and take up embroidery. At the age of 15, she became a member of the newly formed Marx collective farm. A little later, she met her future spouse Khafiz Sitdikov who worked at road construction not far from the village where the Khalitovs lived. In 1930, the young couple left for Bukhara (Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, now Uzbekistan Republic) and got married. In 1933, the family moved to Podolsk, where they soon welcomed a son whom they named Siren. In 1934, the Sitdikovs came to Ufa. Due to Khafiz’s alcoholism, the family separated, and Adia continued raising their son on her own.
In 1937, she found a job as a maintenance worker at the art manufacturing cooperative Bashkhudozhnik, which produced décor, tableware, paintings, sculptures, etc. upon state commissions of varying scopes and difficulty. Here, between washing windows and tidying the workshop space, her first experience of working with painting took place. Later, Sitdikova was admitted to the portrait workshop where she worked with “reference materials.” This meant that she made copies of existing works, painting portraits of Soviet leaders: Zhdanov, Voroshilov, Blyukher, Stalin, and others.
In the 1950s, an art studio led by Rashit Nurmukhametov opened at the cooperative. Sitdikova first tried painting outside the samples and guidelines of the workshop. In the beginning, Sitdikova found classes challenging as she felt embarrassed of her age and the lack of artistic education; her Russian was not fluent, and she generally was not feeling hopeful about her skills, even though she was sincerely passionate about painting. During her vacation in her home village, she continued to work hard—but wary of her neighbors’ close attention to her activities, she chose to paint window views and still lifes with wildflowers, without leaving her house. It was during this period that she started to develop self-awareness as an artist and rise to a new level of interaction with the painting. She was 46 years at this turning point in her life.
Artists Rashit Nurmukhametov and Aleksandr Panteleev provided great support for Sitdikova, insisting on her continuing her studies and dispelling her doubts about her artistic talents. They also convinced her to participate in a group exhibition at the Nesterov Museum along with Aleksandr Tyulkin, Kasim Davletkildeev, Akhmat Lutfullin, Boris Domashnikov. After the exhibition, she was sent to the Goryachiy Klyuch Artists Union residency in the Krasnodar region.
There, among professional artists, Sitdikova felt extremely awkward and tried to avoid the workshop. However, as a result, her colleagues recognized her as an excellent colorist and a still life maestro.
For many years, Adia Sitdikova stayed at the painting department of Bashkhudozhnik, working on state commissions. After a day at Bashkhudozhnik, she would return home where she continued painting her own artworks. Only at the age of 56 when she reached retirement, she was able to dedicate all of her time to her own art.
Adia Sitdikova was active as an artist for more than 30 years. Over this period, she created a large number of paintings and drawings, and took part in many Russian and international exhibitions. Her life and work became the subject of books, both journalistic and academic articles, films, and TV shows. She passed away in 2000 in Ufa.