Australia's richest woman upset over her portrait by Aboriginal artist

Gina Rinehart urges to remove portrait by Vincent Namatjira displayed since March in Canberra

Web Desk
May 18, 2024
Australia's richest woman upset over her portrait by Aboriginal artist
Australia's top billionaire urges National Gallery of Australia to remove her caricature-style portrait. — BBC

Gina Rinehart, Australia's top billionaire, urged the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra to remove her portrait by renowned Aboriginal artist Vincent Namatjira, from public display.

According to a report by the BBC, the portrait of Rinehart, 70, is among 21 colourful paintings by Namatjira, 40, set to be displayed at his show "Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour" in July.

Namatjira is famous for a caricature style which challenges power structures.

Rinehart, the owner of Australia's Hancock Prospecting, is known for being one of the biggest private investors in Australian sport and a prolific philanthropist.

However, she is also known for public legal battles with her family and for her outspoken commentary on everything from climate change to laws protecting indigenous heritage.

Along with Rinehart, champion swimmer Kyle Chalmers — whose portrait is also among the 21 paintings — and Swimming Queensland boss, Kevin Hasemann also petitioned the gallery for the removal of the portraits.

They claim that the portraits on display since March are offensive and mean.

"I've seen the artworks there, and I wouldn’t like to be depicted that way," Hasemann said.

Nevertheless, Namatjira's response to the criticism was simple: "I paint the world as I see it."

'I paint the world as I see it': Vincent Namatjira responds to criticism over paintings. — BBC via National Gallery of Australia

Namatjira, who became the first indigenous person to win Australia’s top portrait contest, the Archibald Prize, in 2020, says his work is designed to make the audience think about influence and privilege.

“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.”