We made a portrait of Gina Rinehart she would happily hang

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has demanded the National Gallery of Australia remove a portrait of her by Archibald Prize-winning artist Vincent Namatjira, displayed as part of the gallery’s current “Vincent Namatjira: Australia in Colour” exhibition, held from March 2 to July 21 in Canberra. 

Rinehart’s attempts to have the NGA take down her portrait, included alongside depictions of several other famous Australians including Scott Morrison, Julia Gillard, Adam Goodes and Namatjira himself, reportedly came via associates of Rinehart sending “strongly worded messages” on her behalf. 

NGA director Nick Mitzevich told The Australian Financial Review they “welcome the public having a dialogue on our collection and displays”. 

The resulting focus on Rinehart’s demands has resulted in almost every news outlet in the country running the story alongside the portrait. But while Rinehart may not want her portrait by Namatjira on public display, the mining magnate is much keener on a work by Crikey’s very own design manager Zennie McLoughlin. 

(Image: Zennie/Private Media)

Commissioned for a March 2023 Crikey article by Dominic Kelly about how the Australian conservative movement had lost its way, the artwork including Rinehart courtesy of a sole sentence referencing her. 

“The IPA is a Gina Rinehart-funded vessel for pretending that Tony Abbott is still relevant.”

Despite this, Hancock Prospecting got in touch with us to ask whether they could purchase a copy of the artwork to “hang on the office wall”. Alas, as the graphic contained a number of photographs purchased from wire service AAP, we weren’t able to sell the masterpiece. That, and McLoughlin was horrified at the thought. 

In a statement on the furore, Namatjira said: “I paint the world as I see it.”

“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.”

It’s not the first time Rinehart has complained about being portrayed in art. In 2015, Rinehart famously took legal action against Nine and production company Cordell Jigsaw over the TV biopic House of Hancock, over what she claimed was an “inaccurate and distorted” portrayal. 

She received an apology from Nine and Cordell Jigsaw as part of a settlement. 

“Nine and Cordell Jigsaw accept that Mrs Rinehart had a very loving and close relationship with her mother, father and husband, and has with Hope and Ginia,” the statement read. 

“They also acknowledge the significant contribution that Mrs Rinehart has made to Australia through her years of hard work and dedication and by her investment in this country, to its industry, economy and to the employment of Australians and by her long-standing support of elite sport and numerous worthwhile charities.

“Nine and Cordell Jigsaw accept that Mrs Rinehart found the broadcast to be inaccurate. That was certainly not the intention of Nine or Cordell Jigsaw, and each unreservedly apologises to Mrs Rinehart and her family for any hurt or offence caused by the broadcast and its promotion.”

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