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Australia's richest woman wants to remove her portrait from display; understand

Art is subjective. And although many artists want to share their work with the world, there is no guarantee that the public will understand it, or even like it.

This certainly seems to be the case with a painting from indigenous artist Vincent Namatjira which includes a portrait of Australia's richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart .

Rinehart allegedly asked the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) to remove his portrait, one of 21 individual works that make up a single piece in the exhibition “Australia in Color” by Namatjira, from the exhibition.

The exhibition has been on display at the gallery in the Australian capital, Canberra, since March. Other subjects of the play include the late Queen Elizabeth II, American musician Jimi Hendrix, Australian Aboriginal rights activist Vincent Lingiari and former Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison.

Australian media reported that Rinehart approached the director and president of the NGA to request the painting's removal. The NGA said in a statement to CNN on Thursday (16) that “welcomes public dialogue about our collection and exhibitions.”

“Since 1973, when the National Gallery acquired Jackson Pollocks’ “Blue Poles,” there has been a dynamic discussion about the artistic merits of works in the national collection and/or on display at the gallery,” the NGA statement continued. “We introduce Australian audiences to works of art to inspire people to explore, experience and learn about art.”

Namatjira said in a statement that he paints “people who are rich, powerful or important – people who have had influence on this country, and on me personally, whether directly or indirectly, whether for good or for ill.”

“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 did this Aboriginal guy paint these powerful people? What is he trying to say?”

“Some people might not like it, some might find it funny, but I hope people look beyond the surface and see the serious side too,” Namatjira added.

Rinehart is executive chairman of Hancock Prospecting, a private mining company founded by her father, Lang Hancock. A CNN reached out to Hancock Prospecting for comment but did not receive a response.

Rinehart has an estimated net worth of US$30.2 billion (about R$155 billion ), according to Forbes. She has “remained unwavering” at the top of Forbes Australia’s 50 richest list for 2024, the outlet reported in February.

A National Visual Arts Association of Australia (NAVA ) manifested itself in support for Namatjira reported 9News, an affiliate of CNN . “While Rinehart has the right to express her opinions about the work, she does not have the authority to pressure the gallery to remove the painting simply because she doesn’t like it,” said NAVA Executive Director Penelope Benton, according to 9News.

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

Source: CNN Brasil

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