Though the 2006 Kirsten Dunst vehicle Marie Antoinette took a swipe at channeling 18th century France through the lens of a glossy music video, it’s SoCal artist Martiros Adalian that takes truly interesting artistic liberties with his depictions of the French Revolution milieu. Adalian’s current art exhibit—part of the City of Fontana’s Winter Artist Showcase—sets out to depict some of the earmarks of those turbulent and decadent times: too much wealth, too many powdered wigs, peasants hankerin‘ for a riot, the shadow of a guillotine starting to materialize. And, of course, there’s Antoinette’s glib and flippant response (“Let them eat cake.”) to the plight of her starving, food shortage-plagued constituents—which is where this show’s moniker is derived from. One picks up on the details that signal decadence in some of the works from this series—the opulent wardrobe, the lavish pet dogs, the wigs, a chandelier—but there’s also a bit of unsettling nightmarishness to the works, evoked by paint drippings; blood spilt without the blood in some Goya-infused reverie. On his website, Adalian says that he projects his lifestyle and character (“restlessness and change”) into his work. The images from “Let Them Eat Cake” are indeed startling portents of the profound changes wrought among the byways of human affairs as well as the antechambers of the soul.
“Let Them Eat Cake” by Martiros Adalian at the Fontana Art Depot Gallery, 16822 Spring St., Fontana, (909) 356-7185; www.fontanarecreation.org, www.adalart.com. Free.