Almarhum Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah: “Unveiling the Unseen (1937 – 1971)” 🗓

8 February 2017 – 31 March 2017

Almarhum Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah was born in Kuala Terengganu on 24 January 1907 and was installed as the Sultan of Terengganu in 1945.  He became Malaysia’s fourth Yang Di Pertuan Agong in 1965 in a reign that Tunku Abdul Rahman described as an eventful and glorious one.  But less known to many was that he was also an accomplished pioneer photographer during the important global modernist era, taking up photography at the age of only 16 in 1923.

Almarhum Sultan Ismail was internationally recognized as a photographer. In 1958 he was made an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society (UK) and in 1966, was awarded the prestigious Excellence Federation International de l’art Photographique (EFIAP). In 2005 the well-known American reference Webster’s Timeline History of Photographers 1800-1989 included Sultan Ismail to its list of historically influential photographers, his name appearing on the same page as photography greats Edward Weston and William Eggleston.

This exhibition showcased for the first time, recently retrieved negatives from Sultan Ismail’s substantial archive that was inherited by his grandson Raja Ihsan Shah.  These are unseen images that not even the photographer’s close family members have seen.  Raja Ihsan is also the author of his grandfather’s biography Pioneering Malaysian Photography 1923-71.  For the first time ever, this exhibition has highlighted the whole repertoire of the photographer, from exquisitely hand-coloured prints of 1948 to later monochrome and colour photographs, some taken during Sultan Ismail’s state visit as Yang Di Pertuan Agong.

This exhibition has been the outcome of dedication and research over many years.  To Raja Ihsan it is an obligation to highlight his grandfather’s legacy with the peoples of Malaysia, a later generation of people his grandfather was guardian of during his reign as the fourth Yang Di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

 “Almarhum Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah “Unveiling the Unseen (1937 – 1971)” photography exhibition was on display at the Open Space Gallery of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia from 8th February  2017 – 31st March 2017.

A special talk session by YM Raja Zainol Ihsan Shah was also be held on the opening of the exhibition. For more info, click here.


Exhibition poster


from to
2011-2016 Past Exhibitions