NEWS
26/06/2018 13:04 SAST | Updated 26/06/2018 13:41 SAST

Goodman Gallery Owner On David Goldblatt: 'We All Saw Him As A Father'

'He wanted to understand who these people were who were oppressing black people during the apartheid regime.'

Famous photographer David Goldblatt was laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, and Goodman Gallery owner Liza Essers described him as someone who was always working towards helping young up-and-coming artists.

The renowned artist had mentored the likes of Zanele Muholi and Jabulani Dhlamini.

"We all see him as a father — his trust and photography will continue supporting young people. He continued even in the last weeks of his life supporting young photographers," Essers said.

She worked closely with Goldblatt for the past 10 years, and the gallery has represented the photographer worldwide.

David has always been very very supportive; what has been very important to him is freedom of expression.

Essers also highlighted how supportive he was even in the hardest times. In 2012, the controversial "The Spear" artwork by Brett Murray was exhibited at the gallery, to public outcry that led to a defamation lawsuit from the ANC and the defacing of the painting.

The painting depicted former South African president Jacob Zuma in a pose reminiscent of Lenin, although with his genitals exposed. Essers says Goldblatt was one of the few artists, along with Bongi Dhlomo, who supported the gallery in this case.

"David [was always] very very supportive — what [was] very important to him [was] freedom of expression."

David Goldblatt's work

Goldblatt is known for the iconic pictures he took during the apartheid era — particularly how he questioned the "social values and wanted to understand what the value system" of the regime, according to Essers.

"If one goes back at his oeuvre of work, he took photographs in the 1970s in Soweto, he did a body of work called 'In Boksburg, Some Afrikaners'."

"He wanted to understand who these people were who were oppressing black people during the apartheid regime. So he was an incredibly important voice during the apartheid years documenting history, politics and how they affected society."

Goldblatt took pictures reflecting the historical events in South Africa, and won many awards including the Camera Austria Award of the City of Graz for Contemporary Photography, and was also made an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute .

AFP/Getty Images
South African photographer David Goldblatt poses during an exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden, November 25 2006.

His digital archive is in South Africa and is being kept by the Goodman Gallery; however, his negatives are no longer in the country.

He had set up an archive at the University of Cape Town, but sadly decided to remove his work after violent student protest and vandalism of what was deemed "colonialist" art at the institution.

"When there was the violence on campus and artworks were being burned, David felt that it was no longer a safe place, and he was unhappy with the way in which the university handled the situation," Essers said.

Goldblatt died on Monday at the age of 87.