Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Artist's Self-Portrait
Artist's Self-Portrait

Hoessein Enas’ self-portraits served a number of purposes. On one level, these ‘selfies’ show the multifaceted personality of an artistic life that also speaks to the cultural sophistication of being a modern Malaysian. The paintings can also be regarded as a psychological exploration of an artistic personality. They show a playful side of the artist as he reveals different aspects of himself - in this particular portrait, as a debonair painter posing with great panache in his studio.

Oil on canvas
117 x 89 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Hoessein Enas
About Hoessein Enas

Hoessein Enas (1924 - 1995) came to Malaya from Indonesia in 1947. His artistic stature as a portrait painter in the academic realist style grew in prominence following Malaya’s independence in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963, a country he came to identify as home. In 1956, he was the founding member of Angkatan Pelukis Semenanjung which was an important force in the development of artistic activity in the country around Independence. In 1963, Shell Ltd. commissioned him to travel throughout the country to produce a series of drawings and paintings to commemorate the formation of Malaysia. In 1990, Hoessein Enas was conferred ‘Royal Portrait Painter’ status by HRH The Sultan of Selangor.

Further Readings

  • Dato’ Hoessein Enas: From His Personal Collection, Rahel Joseph and Nur Hanim Khairuddin, eds., Kuala Lumpur: ILHAM, 2015.

  • Menemui Moderniti: 40 tahun Angkatan Pelukis Se-Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1998.

  • Tan Chee Khuan, The Life and Art of Dato’ M. Hoessein Enas, Penang Art Gallery, 1999.

Learning Section
  • Look carefully at the artist in this self-portrait. What is he wearing? What is he holding? What is his expression?  Where is he seated? Why has the artist decided to portray himself in this way? What clues is he giving us as to what kind of person he is? What does he want us to know about him?

  • How many selfies have you taken? Why do you take them? What is your criteria for judging your selfies? What are the advantages of a selfie over having your photograph taken? Why not choose your favourite selfie and make a drawing or painting from it.

Education/Primary School

  • A self-portrait is a portrait the artist paints of himself. Just like a selfie!

  • Look at this portrait that Hoessein Enas painted of himself when he was young.

  • How do we know he is an artist? (Look at what he’s holding!)