Visual artist Ismail Hashim, one of seven founding members of social reform group Aliran, passed away in a road accident in Penang yesterday evening.

Ismail Hashim at work

Poet Cecil Rajendra, who described Ismail as a close friend, said he had a wonderful time yesterday with Ismail laughing and joking and reminiscing after the launch of Cecil’s new book on Rose Chan in George Town yesterday. Ismail left on his motorbike at about 4.00pm.

Joining Cecil at the launch was Penang-based black-and-white photographer par excellence Ismail Hashim, an Aliran founder member

Ismail Hashim (left) with one of his best buddies, poet Cecil Rajendra, at a recent event

Another founding member of Aliran, Senator Ariffin Omar, attended Ismail’s funeral last night.

For a black-and-white photography buff, the jovial Ismail, a former dean at USM’s Pusat Seni, was camera-shy when the tables were turned and he became the subject of the photograph.

Ismail will be sorely missed. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who had launched a retrospective exhibition of Ismail’s work at the Penang State Art Gallery in 2010, expressed shock and regret at the photographer’s passing. For more info on Ismail and his work, see here.

Cecil Rajendra had recently paid tribute to Ismail’s work in “Master photographers: The Professor and the Doctor” published by Aliran.