Spiralling and spinning, Untitled (2002) rises up from its support, effervescent with energy, an unfettered tempest of bronze. Simultaneously, it is engaged in the opposite motion, a coil of darkness drawn inexorably downwards, twisting and twining as it flows away into some intangible crevasse. In this work, Tony Cragg abandons the visually predictable forms of industrial materials and found objects which had dominated his earlier practice, and instead sets out to map the surfaces of uncharted geometry. Each turn of Untitled becomes a labyrinthine helix from which barely-suggested faces peer; every contour is contorted into a serpentine asymmetry; plane after plane undulate in all three dimensions. Over its dark and smooth surfaces play light and shadow, drawing and redrawing endless permutations of curving, graceful patterns.
Throughout his practice, Cragg has engaged with three dimensional volumes graphically: focusing on the contour of masses, on the outlines suggested by accumulations of found materials. This approach of drawing sculpture in space would win him the Turner prize in 1988. In one of his very first pieces, executed in 1972, while he was still a student at the Wimbledon School of Art, the artist created a work by throwing a rope up into the air of Richmond Park, London. In a moment documented only in a contemporary photograph, Cragg stands, looking up, one arm lifted, waving goodbye to a work which has taken on a life of its own. The rope, floating up and up, impossibly high, twists and turns, loops over itself eight or nine times, full of determined energy yet accidental in form. In Untitled, the line which Cragg had taken for a walk in the 1970s reappears, acquiring a new dimension and a new freedom as the artist rotates it around a vertical axis. Infinitely variable, the line writhes and undulates, and yet finally remembers itself and re-joins, forming a closed, labyrinthine surface whose intricacy matches the complex beauty of natural growths and marine flora, fossils and crystals. Twisting nature and humanity into a single chimaerical form, Untitled is an ode to the interrelatedness of the universe.