Aelita Andre (born 9 January 2007) is an Australian abstract artist known for her Surrealist painting style and her young age. She began to paint when aged nine months, and her work was displayed publicly in a group exhibition shortly after she turned two. Her first solo exhibition opened in New York City in June 2011, when she was four years old. Andre was born to Australian father Michael Andre and Russian mother Nikka Kalashnikova. As a baby, she often watched her parents, both artists themselves, work on canvases on the floor. She learned to paint before she could walk, several months prior to her first birthday. She and her family currently reside in Melbourne.
Andre's mother, believing her daughter to be a child prodigy, showed some of Andre's paintings to a Melbourne-based art curator when the girl was 22 months old. Impressed with the work, the curator agreed to include it in a group exhibition in the Brunswick Street Gallery, and he began advertising the show with Andre's paintings before he learned of her age. Although he was surprised, he kept his promise to display the work. The show opened shortly after her second birthday and also featured Kalashnikova's photography. Several months later, Andre and her parents visited Hong Kong, where she sold her most expensive painting to date for $24,000. Andre's first solo exhibition, The Prodigy of Color, ran from 4 to 25 June 2011 at the Agora Gallery, a gallery in Chelsea. It contained 24 of her paintings, each on sale for between $4,400 and $10,000. The press nicknamed her "the Pee-wee Picasso" after nine of the works sold for a total of more than $30,000. According to the BBC, these sales may make the four-year-old "the youngest ever professional artist". Andre's second solo exhibition, Secret Universe, ran from 12 June to 3 July 2012 at the Agora Gallery.
Art critics have noted Andre's work, classified as abstract expressionism, for its employment of the Surrealist techniques automatism and accidentalism. She paints with acrylics and often adds three-dimensional objects, including bark, twigs, and feathers, to the canvases. Buyers of her art at her New York show commented favourably on the paintings' simplicity and richness in texture. A number of major news sources, including Time, the BBC, The Washington Post, the The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News, and the New York Post, have generally responded favourably to Andre's work and to her early success. Several of them have compared her to Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso. At least one other, The New York Times, acknowledged her widespread notoriety but commented that her paintings "are hardly novel from a formal vantage, nor do they provide added meaning below the surface." It also noted that although her 2009 exhibition in Melbourne was not at a vanity gallery, the Agora Gallery's pay-for-show operation generated controversy about the legitimacy of her international fame. Nevertheless, the interest that collectors and the media showed in her exhibition at Agora resulted in every painting in the show being sold within two weeks, indicating that the show contributed to the growth of her international reputation.