Clover’s drawings can be related to the esthetic of Shamanism, with regards to his recurrent themes, such as birds, water, fish, trees, mankind, and the ever- turning circle of life. Shamanism is known as an animistic spiritual movement hence nature is essential and placed in the center of life. A philosophy in which the concepts of initiation and reincarnation are fundamental. In Clover’s series of drawings, the unworldly aura is overwhelming, while the structure of the drawings are choreographic, the deeper meaning is spirituality and magic. Each figure represented is a symbol and refers to a higher and an inner signification. The bird, for example, is an extremely powerful symbol, in the Shamanism philosophy, it’s the messenger to the beyond and the bearer of revelations.
Clover’s work is highly inspired by the movement called Symbolism (1886) and more precisely its esoteric-mysticism. In painting, Symbolism is addressed to the human spirit and imagination and Symbolists consider Art as an ethical experience more than a visual one. The hidden goal of art is to discover the secret side of things, hence, the figure is only a pretext to uncover more! Symbolisms artists, like James Clover, are deeply inhabited by nature, but represent it as a dream, their aesthetic becomes fantastic and imaginary.
In Clover’s work, references to Constantin Brancusi are recurrent. Brancusi and Clover share the same ideological vision of a higher spiritual being. They also share the quest of that higher spiritual existence, which is nothing other than the pursuit of happiness. The theme of bird and flight are essential for Brancusi, for years, his work was based on the representation of the essence of birds’ flight, and its intrinsic correlation with the ascent to the spiritual and to happiness. At last, in Clover’s drawings the figure of Brancusi’s endless column (la colonne sans fin) is recurring. This representation refers to the mythological Axis Mundi: an axis that supports the terrestrial arch and provides the link with the heart. In other words, the perfect nexus between the heart (the concrete, the real) and the beyond (the spiritual, the magic, the fantastic).