Australia's richest woman asks gallery to remove portrait of her

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart allegedly asked Australia's national gallery to remove the piece, which sits next to similar paintings of the British royal family.

Australia’s richest woman has asked for a portrait of her to be removed from the country’s national gallery, according to reports.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart was one of 21 people painted by indigenous artist Vincent Namatjira as part of a piece called Australia in Colour, which also features paintings of King Charles and the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Local media has reported Ms Rinehart approached the National Gallery of Australia’s (NGA) director and chair to request the painting’s removal, as covered by ITV News’ US partner CNN.

Mr Namatjira said in a statement that he paints “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.

“I paint the world as I see it,” he said. “People don’t have to like my paintings, but I hope they take the time to look and think, ‘why has this Aboriginal bloke painted these powerful people? What is he trying to say?’

“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,” Namatjira added.

King Charles is among the prominent figures featured in the exhibition. / Credit: CNN

Other subjects in the piece include musician Jimi Hendrix, Australian Aboriginal rights activist Vincent Lingiari and the former Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison.

The NGA said in a statement to CNN on Thursday that it “welcomes the public having a dialogue on our collection and displays.”

“Since 1973, when the National Gallery acquired Jackson Pollocks’ 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 NGA statement said. “We present works of art to the Australian public to inspire people to explore, experience and learn about art.”

Australia’s National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) has spoken out in support Namatjira, according to reports by 9News.

The artwork also features impressions of Queen Elizabeth II and Australian footballer Adam Goodes. / Credit: CNN

“While Rinehart has the right to express her opinions about the work, she does not have the authority to pressure the gallery into withdrawing the painting simply because she dislikes it,” NAVA’s executive director Penelope Benton said told the outlet.

NAVA offered its “unwavering support” to the National Gallery of Australia, 9News reported, stating that it was concerned that Ms Rinehart’s demand to remove the portrait “sets a dangerous precedent for censorship and the stifling of creative expression.”

The exhibition has been running at the gallery in the Australian capital, Canberra, since March.

Ms Rinehart is the executive chairman of Hancock Prospecting, a privately owned mining company that was founded by her father, Lang Hancock.

She has an estimated net worth of $30.2 billion (£23.9bn), according to Forbes.

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