No Smoking During the Apocalypse: Julian Mallia’s new collection unveils poetic ambiguities in a monochrome universe

In his latest collection, “No Smoking During the Apocalypse,” Julian ‘Julinu’ Mallia, a multidisciplinary visual artist from Malta, captivates audiences with a series of oil paintings that fuse the surreal with the digital, inviting viewers into a monochrome universe where the boundaries of reality are blurred.

The exhibition showcases a series of unlikely encounters set against celestial backgrounds, where impossible objects float and iconic figures like Tony Montana dine with Jesus Christ. This intriguing blend of elements is not just visually arresting but also steeped in philosophical underpinnings.

Mallia’s work, known for its atmospheric and surreal imagery, bridges the gap between the real and the abstract, challenging viewers to find meaning in the “unreasonable silence of the world,” a concept famously discussed by philosopher Albert Camus. These paintings are more than just visual explorations; they are meticulously researched and executed, reflecting Mallia’s deep engagement with both traditional and digital art forms.

The artist’s background in psychology is evident in the depth of the narratives he creates. His paintings do not merely represent absurd scenarios but engage with deeper existential themes, questioning the essence of reality and our place within it. Mallia uses traditional oil painting techniques to craft images that, although rooted in classical artistry, venture into modern conceptual territories.

The exhibition can be seen as a continuation of the themes explored in Mallia’s previous solo exhibition, “Julinu’s Radioactive Ravioli,” yet it also marks a departure towards more ambitious and ambiguous visual concepts. It maintains his signature wit and aesthetic, which have brought him international acclaim and recognition, including an award at the AOI World Illustration Awards in the UK and the title of “Artist of the Year” at Malta’s Arts Awards in 2020.

Julian Mallia’s work is an invitation to explore the enigmatic and the profound. As the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted by Giorgio de Chirico, once said: “And what shall I love if not the enigma?” Mallia’s latest collection encourages just that—a love for the enigmatic, wrapped in a veil of poetic ambiguity and subtle humor.

For those intrigued by the melding of art and philosophy, “No Smoking During the Apocalypse” promises a journey through a thought-provoking landscape that challenges perceptions and provokes introspection.

The exhibition is opens on the 10th May, and will be available at Mqabba’s il-Kamra ta’ Fuq until 2nd June. 

For more information about Julian Mallia and his work, visit

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