Abstract art came into being in the twentieth century—that in itself should tell you something. Representational art has been around since the dawn of humanity, and (depending on what it’s depicting) is usually okay in feng shui. You wouldn’t want to have art in your home that is gruesome or shows suffering or sadness—save that kind of thing for museums, where you can just quickly walk away from it.
The only abstract art that is fine to have in homes (and offices) is that which has an unmistakably peaceful feeling—otherwise leave it in the gallery or museum. A large amount of abstract art does not look peaceful—in fact it looks the opposite—disturbing, restless, chaotic. Don’t bring that sort of feeling into your home.
Just the other day, I had a telephone consultation for a client in Northern California. The largest piece of artwork in the whole house was a large abstract painting in the living room. It consisted of random splatters of red, blue, and black paint. I gasped when I saw the picture.
The chaoticness of the painting wasn’t the only problem. The colors symbolized opposing elements—Fire and Water, all mixed together in a big mess. Before the consultation, I had scraped my mind for any place in the home where it would be okay, but with that combination of colors, there just wasn’t anywhere.
I thought, “How am I going to tell this person that that’s no good in feng shui? What if it’s expensive? What if it has sentimental value?” Well, I was raised to be an honest person, and my clients hire me to hear honesty, so I knew I was going to have to say something. When we got to discussing the living room, I prefaced what I had to say by saying, “This is kinda hard to say…” She jumped right in and said, “You can tell me anything.” So I did, and to my great relief she took it well. “Oh, I’ll just get rid of that!” I never expected it to be so easy. I told her I was a Libra and I hate to hurt people’s feelings, and she said she was a Libra too. The whole consultation went ever so smoothly.
I got an email from her (and I’ve already added it to the “Words of Appreciation” page of my website) after the consultation. She wrote, “Many thanks again, I removed the mish-mash painting from the living room and cut the band on the dining room door and I can’t tell you how immediate the feeling of calmness and relaxation that came over me, it’s really amazing!” That kind of feedback is priceless to me. (The thing about the “band on the dining room door” was that it was a glass door and had a sheer curtain panel held on with tension rods at the top and bottom. There was a wide band of fabric in the middle that made it look like a person with a narrow waist. That’s problematic symbolism—things are getting tight—or if the panel is tied in the middle—my stomach is in knots.)
When I was in my early 20s I went to an art gallery in Washington, D.C., and the first thing, just a few feet inside the door, was a huge painting bigger than me and it was all yellow. I just stood there with my arms by my sides and my palms facing the painting. I was overwhelmed by the power of it and how good it felt. Art can be so powerful—be careful what you put in your home!