Australia’s richest woman pleas with gallery to remove her portrait

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Mining billionaire, Gina Rinehart, has demanded that the National Gallery of Australia removes her portrait, which is currently on display.

Rinehart, the richest woman in Australia, is a controversial figure due to the nature of how her wealth was secured. The portrait is part of a new exhibition in Canberra, devoted to 21 of the most influential people who have shaped modern Australia.

In addition to featuring a portrait of Rinehart, King Charles, former prime minister Scott Morrison, Australian rules footballer Adam Goodes and Olympian Cathy Freeman are also depicted in the exhibition. Aboriginal artist Vincent Namatjira, who is known for creating caricatures, was responsible for the artwork dedicated to Rinehart.

Speaking to the BBC, he said of the portrait which Rinehart believes to be unflattering: “We are all equal in Australia… No matter what heritage you are, or where you come from… We are all Australian.”

He continued: “I paint people who are wealthy, powerful or significant – people who have had an influence on this country, and on me personally, whether directly or indirectly, whether for good or for bad. Some people might not like it, other people might find it funny, but I hope people look beneath the surface and see the serious side too.”

Despite complaints made by Rinehart, the gallery have no plans to remove the portrait from the exhibition in Canberra, stating: “Since 1973, when the National Gallery acquired Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, there has been a dynamic discussion on the artistic merits of works in the national collection, and/or on display at the gallery.”

The National Gallery of Australia continued: “We present works of art to the Australian public to inspire people to explore, experience and learn about art.”

According to the National Gallery, Rinehart is a friend of the institution due to previous donations she has made, which is reported to be between $4,999 and $9,999.

Furthermore, Australia’s Arts Minister Tony Burke has also defended the portrait, and backed the gallery’s decision to keep it on display. Burke remarked: “If all portraits had to be flattering, a lot of artists and every cartoonist in the country would be out of a job.”

The exhibition, which has been ongoing since March, will continue to be on display at the National Gallery of Australia until July 21st.

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