"Pablo Guardiola"

Photographs that prove deceptive yet captivating
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REVIEW Although, on entering Little Tree Gallery, it seems that Pablo Guardiola's show consists of only seven photographs, that small collection forms the crux of a multidimensional presentation. The images have slight subjects and document the finite and the ephemeral. In Much More Than a Brand of Crackers, a Beer, a Malt Beverage and a Legendary Taino Leader (2007), a bottle cap is captured after being flung onto an asphalt surface. It isn't until later, when one has progressed through the slightly wavering line of neighboring photos, that the bottle cap from that photograph reappears, wedged against a power outlet in the corner of the gallery. The cap from a Malta Hatuey, as referenced in the title, bears multiple meanings, alluding not only to one of the first indigenous national heroes of Cuba but also to the yeasty, fizzy drink from that country. Similarly, in Untitled (2007), Guardiola makes the two-dimensional 3-D: the postcard used to announce the exhibit is presented tacked to a coordinating blue lath surface.

These types of dualities continue throughout the show, both in the process of the artist's production — captured in his photographs — and in his seemingly chance yet obviously staged and sculptural documentations. In one image, a sign reading Estetica refers in Spanish to beauticians while also making an indirect allusion to the theory of aesthetics. Another photo shows what appears to be a simple grease stain on a paper bag. With closer inspection, it resembles the silhouette of a world map.

The simplicity of form and composition — and the equally plain presentation — proves deceptive yet captivating. As hinted at by the title of the single sculptural piece in the exhibit displayed without a related photograph, Some Ideas Should Be Kept Warm (2007), Guardiola's work reveals an immediate, minimal beauty even as the subtle complexity of each photograph leads to further rumination.

PABLO GUARDIOLA Through Feb. 16. Wed.–Sat., noon–6 p.m.; and by appointment. Little Tree Gallery, 3412 22nd St., SF. (415) 643-4929, www.littletreegallery.com

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