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© 2024  Essays written by Patrick Bryson and Gisli Bergmann 

Let's Talk About Intuition


The theme of The Coincidence Gallery @ Pictorem show from 11 Jan - 03 Feb 2024, is to encourage conversation about Intuition.

“Infinite Insight Integrator (i-2-i), the Quantum Supercomputer, first came online in April 2024. Things have never been the same since, when literally infinite computing capacity–the ability to interact with 256 simultaneous and different states of possibility, fuelled by more calculations per second than all the atoms in the universe– married with a new generation of AI that has attained advanced super general intelligence.1
   It was an understatement to say that this changed the universe. One of the first, of many, discoveries of the i-2-i was the location of the mythic Akashic Records buried deep in a hid- den dimension of the universe. This was easily discovered by the non-localised capabilities of the quantum supercomputer. The Akashic records are...”

Bella Kandor, an unknown artist, switches off their favourite sci-fi podcast and looks over at their friendly Irish Wolf-hound, Jackstone Pollard. The two are in a cold, messy studio, late at night, surrounded by various half-finished paintings, and oddly shaped sculptures made from abandoned materials, collected during their daily walks around town.
   A single bare lightbulb hangs from the ceiling, gently swaying, while emitting a faint hum. This lends an aura of fragile luminescence to the unfolding scene. The bulb projects dark shadows amongst the vivid chaos of colour that envelops Bella and Jackstone. A big clock ticks on the paint splattered wall, a witness to the silence between the two.
   Bella is staring at their latest painting, pondering the complexities and challenges of being an artist and wondering how to proceed. They are contemplating their creative process, aware that it is way past their bedtime. However, they can’t pull themselves away and give up yet, as they are not sure what the way forward is and need to resolve this dilemma before calling it a day.

   Jackstone: Grrrrwuf! What is happening Bella, are you OK? Have you ever considered how intuition can help you, and how it plays an important role in your artistic process?
   Bella: [Nonplussed that their dear dog is talking to them]. Yes absolutely, It’s like that Walt Whitman poem, “Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen, Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.” 3
   It’s about this cyclical nature, the way the seen and unseen interact.
Jackstone: That poem re- ally encapsulates the dance between reason and intuition, doesn’t it? So, how do you see intuition helping you?
   Bella: Well, intuition is often seen as the antithesis of reason. But did you hear that quantum mechanics and new computing possibilities still need an intuitive mind to understand them? Science is supposed to be all about reason and proof, but where does rational thought fit with 256 states of possibility...
   I think intuition is like this bridge between the conscious and the unconscious – between what I am aware of now, plus the pull of where I want to get to. It’s this invaluable tool that transcends a predictable line of thought, that draws from both intellect and emotion. I find that it can be this wonderful wellspring of ideas and solutions that open up and emerge, seemingly out of nowhere.4
   Jackstone: It’s fascinating how intuition operates, guiding without any obvious proof or evidence. I recently read about Henri Bergson’s perspective on two types of knowing – one through analysis and the other through intuition. The latter allows us to grasp things as they really are, an immediate perception rather than relying on concepts.5
   So, intuition isn’t just a gut feeling, is it? Do you think it’s a deeper, subconscious process that guides your creative decisions? 6
  Bella: Exactly! When I’m painting without a clear plan, it’s intuition that leads the way. It’s this incredible flow of ideas and impulses that guide each action or stroke and this im- mediacy becomes vital to the artistic process. I’ve noticed it in my own work, especially while painting without precon- ception. The unconscious mind addresses unresolved issues, and solutions emerge almost out of thin air.
   Jackstone: Hmmm… But isn’t there a risk with this intuition business? Biases, misinterpretations, emotions—surely, they can cloud intuitive judgments, can’t they? Like when you felt sorry for that other dog you thought was a stray and want- ed to bring home … but I knew from its smell that it belonged to one of our neighbours.
   Bella: Absolutely, Jackstone, and yes, you can’t always be sure, so that’s the big challenge. Emotional “demons” can cloud our judgment. And hidden biases about race, gender and age can reside there unchecked, causing harm to others.
   Our past experiences, emotions, frustrations, longings... they all influence our intuition. Sometimes, like tonight, what I really need to do is to befriend those inner demons. It’s not necessarily easy but I think I am helping to acknowledge them by talking, rather than bottling them up and rejecting them out of fear, pride or misunderstanding.
   For instance Elaine De Kooning’s approach, surrendering to the flow of the subconscious in painting resonates with me.7 It’s about befriending those demons, transforming them into sources of energy and understanding.
   Jackstone: You mentioned the gut feeling too. It’s intriguing how our gut and psyche are interconnected. I know that my gut affects my moods and thoughts. Do you think artists, more than other humans, tap into these physical, biological modes of communication?
   Bella: I heard that 95% of our brain activity is hidden from awareness and our brain is not the only seat of decision making and processing of experience. The gut and the psyche share intimate connections. Anxiety, depression, and various disorders manifest in gut behaviour, and this relationship operates bidirectionally: ailments of the gut can influence one’s mental state and vice versa. Holding approximately 95% of the body’s serotonin, a well-known neurotransmitter in the brain vital for affect regulation, the gut boasts an impressive 200–600 million neurons, surpassing the count in a dog’s brain.8 Interestingly, the pre-
dominant neural traffic flows from the gut to the brain, highlighting a significant pathway for communication. Clearly, these neural networks aren’t solely dedicat- ed to regulating bowel movement. The system is far too intricate to have evolved merely for ensur- ing proper colon function.
Despite popular belief, there’s a deep neurological basis for intuition. Scientists call the stomach the “second brain” for a reason.9
   Jackstone: Nice! Makes me wonder how many neurons are in my gut, probably as many as in a cat’s brain…
   Bella: Intuition, in a way, acts as a silent advisor, drawing on this hidden knowledge, and guiding our creative choices.
   Jackstone: I guess that’s where the paradox lies. Intuition leads you into incredible creative episodes, but sometimes you do seem to veer off a tad and get carried away. That’s when I scratch the door to signal it’s time for a walk. It’s about balancing that wildness with critical evaluation too, don’t you think?
   Bella: You are right Jackstone, [chuckling] sometimes I’m a bit like a dog with a bone and it’s good to stop and go out to see people. It’s a delicate balance between letting intuition flow freely and stepping back to reflect on its output. But have you noticed how intuition operates beyond just artistic output?
   Jackstone: Definitely. It’s that silent advisor nudging decision-making, sparking unexpected connections, making use of coincidences and guiding our choices even when we don’t fully understand its origins. I do that all the time because I am a dog and can get away with it. Humans seem to have trouble trusting their intuition, in my humble opinion.
   Bella: Right, it’s that inexplicable sense of connection or the gut feeling urging us to take a different path. Do you think as an artist, I am more attuned to these modes of thought and expression than, say, a tax advisor? Jackstone: Not sure. I don’t pay tax! I have observed that you actively seek out certain affective states through your painting. It’s really cool how you do that, almost like setting up conditions for intuitive episodes to occur. It’s like spending time building a nest - then bingo! Intuition starts
to flourish and grow.

The bulb flickers and goes out, plunging everything into dark- ness. A deep silence settles in all directions, deeper and deeper. Gradually a faint light begins to glow.
   Another artist’s studio appears, flooded by the golden light of a Mediterranean summer afternoon. Matta Shruti Isian, a successful artist is working on her latest painting. Gloriously coloured canvases and textiles adorn the walls. A longcase Edwardian clock marks the passage of time. Her wealthy collector and gallerist, Vincenzo Capitali, watches intently, smoking a cigar and drinking an expensive glass of wine. They continue a conversation on intuition that Matta is writing about for the prestigious international magazine ‘Art What’.

   Matta: “like building a nest for intuition” 10 …That’s an intriguing analogy. When I get the balance right, it’s like intuition thrives in ambiguity, guiding me when information is incomplete, leading to unexpected and original twists.

   Vincenzo: But there’s a balance, isn’t there? Reason and evidence are crucial, but intuition adds that missing piece, helping to grasp the essence of the unknown.
   Matta: Absolutely. It’s about embracing both—using reason as a guide but allowing intuition to blow the bloody doors off and open up to infinite possibilities!
   Vincenzo: So how does this relate to painting?
   Matta: Paint can capture intuitive impulses, energies and insights. It can blend and capture both inner and outer worlds, sensations and feeling. Paint is so magical, fluid and malleable that the internal and external are able to mysteriously meet in the creative act. It is where the artist can miracu- lously play and create with their own inner being as the ultimate subject. This fuses the complex interaction between objective and subjective experiences, transcending the seeming duality of experience.
Vincenzo: So, what is the problem with intuition, if it can give you so much freedom?
   Matta: Intuitively, having infinite choices seems beneficial, as it offers freedom and variety. However, when there is an excessive array of choices, this can lead to decision paralysis and dissatisfaction.
   Instead of feeling empowered, artists might feel overwhelmed, leading to anxiety and difficulties. This counterintuitive idea challenges the assump- tion that more, or even infinite options, result in greater satisfaction and highlights how an abundance of choices can actually hinder decision-making and contentment.
   Vincenzo: Go on... are there any more problems?
   Matta: Now that you have asked, I can tell you that success and recognition as an artist can bring a set of problems that can arrest and derail the delicate balance and access to intuition that we artists depend on. That’s why I want to write about how to develop intuition, to help artists to discover, sustain and deepen their superpower.
   Progress in our creative life can be achieved through harnessing both important leaps in imagination tempered and absorbed by pauses for reflection. Both of these are necessary for growth and development. This ability to grow can be matured through application, experience, patience and time. We can become more productive and we can develop a tangible sense of a deeper meaning and purpose to our lives.
   Vincenzo: Go on… [putting down his glass of Barolo].
   Matta: Another problem is that alcohol or drugs can appear to be sources of great energy that free up the mind and emotions - a lot like intuition as they have a visceral quality. However, they can lead to delusions and despair especially over time when the effects wear off, if they are not managed carefully.
   Vincenzo: [looking sheepish, as he blows a long plume of cigar smoke out of the open french windows that Matta has placed him near] Hmmm, you artists are complicated! Do you think then, in today’s crazy world, intuition is given its proper recognition, or is it mostly within the realm of art where it’s really acknowledged?
   Matta: It feels like, amidst information overload, intuition might be finding a refuge within art. It’s that voice questioning conventions, breaking free from external influences.
   Vincenzo: I like that! So, would you say that trusting intuition is almost like tapping into an inner wisdom?
   Matta: Absolutely. In the chaos of the world, intuition becomes a refuge for many artists. It’s the voice that questions, explores the uncharted, and sparks creativity. Trusting intuition requires ignoring external influences and turning inward, listening to the silence of our inner world.
   Yes, and it helps us navigate this unknowable universe, forging our own paths forward and unlocking hidden dimensions within ourselves.
   Vincenzo: Fascinating how intuition intertwines with creativity, isn’t it? How does a painter, like yourself, help and support the emergence of intuition in themselves?
   Matta: Painters generally set up valued and special conditions, times, spaces and environments to create the conditions - both external and internal - for intuition to visit and guide them.11
   Vincenzo: Fascinating, that’s what this studio is – a nest for intuition to appear!
   Matta: Precisely, but intuition is not just a guide for artists; it’s the key to unlocking hidden dimensions of the self and forging our truest purpose.
Exploring intuition while re- lying on intuition itself is an intriguing paradox. It is as if navigating a labyrinth guided by an inner compass - one that operates beyond the conscious mind’s control and limits.
   Vincenzo: Can you say more about how intuition opens this up?
   Matta: Intuition is really just the doorway, because it leads to a more important phenomenon, namely insight. Insight is hard won and demands effort, application and awareness. An insight is the capacity for accurate and deep intuitive understanding.
   Vincenzo: Very interesting…
   Matta: In contrast to intuition, insight involves a period of incubation before the recognition of a solution to a problem or a period of creative output. There is usually the gradual emergence of a pattern associated with the birth of an insight, as the solution or idea becomes more and more conscious, culminating in the ‘aha’ or ‘eureka moment’.12
   Intuition, in contrast, has been described as the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning, whereas insight, fed by intuition grows and flourishes over a period of time.
   Intuition occurs instantly and is emotionally laden; it does not have the accompanying verbal, conscious awareness of the final stage of insight. 

   But intuition is the foundation and precedes the appearance of conscious insight. Insight can often be accompanied by special feelings but also a sense of depth of self that can be profound. The cultivation of the capacity for insight is a distillation of intuition and can be the foundation for the birth of self-development.


The light fades and the darkness envelops once again. Everything and nothing merge and become one. Peace descends and all thought and movement subside, as if they never existed.
   By some unseen creative force, a new scene appears. A dimly lit studio emerges from the shadows to reveal the artist Orcard Mariner, who lies quietly on a chaise longue, eyes closed. Beside him sits his daughter Pippi Populace, holding his hand tenderly. An old clock on the wall nearby has stopped working and no longer marks the passing of time, as it once did.
   Orcard is approaching his 100th birthday and has lived a chequered life dedicated to painting. He has seen many wonderful and terrible things and has weathered success and obscurity, over and over. He carries tales within him that only he could know and many that he could never fully understand.
   He wakes from his trance and sees a sunlit hill hovering in the distance, but is initially uncertain as to whether or not he is hallucinating.
   He sees what look like many sea creatures swimming in the water at the foot of the landscape shimmering before him. And he suddenly realises their true beauty, blessing them as he recognises that they are the spirits of his intuition, that have accompanied him throughout his long life.
   Words vividly appear  in light before him before slowly fading away…


‘The air is cut away before, And closes from behind.’ 13

[Coughs and hesitates before continuing…] Yeats explores the themes of spirituality, mortality, and the yearning for artistic transcendence, employing intuition as his guiding force.
   [Pippi leans closer, attentive to every word.]
   Orcard: The poem takes you on a metaphorical journey from the temporal world to an imagined, timeless realm represented by Byzantium. …This voyage serves as a vehicle for exploring the transformative power of art and the human quest for immortality….
   [Orcard’s voice fades to a whisper] The poem talks of release... and how only intuition can carry us into freedom where reason cannot go… to embrace the intuitive pursuit of a place where art and soul are eternal…
   Pippi: [Picks up the thread as she starts to gain her own insight] Yes, In the opening stanza, he paints a picture of an ageing society plagued by the inevitability of decay. Then the poet employs vivid imagery and symbolism to evoke a sense of ethereal longing and a departure from the limitations of earthly existence.
   Orcard: [Closing his eyes] That’s where I am going now…

Silence settles over the scene and the light dims even more. Sparks of light flicker and fizzle until darkness once again envelops everything. They begin to fall downwards, faster and faster until all sense of time and space have gone and there is only the presence of infinity …

…without opposite.




3.    Song of Myself, 1892, Walt Whitman



6. ness/intuition-its-more-than-a-feeling.html

7.    Elaine de kooning

8.    Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things, Vol I, p.679



11.    Saarinen, J A., Paintings as Solid Affective Scaffolds, 2019.


13. Ancient_Mariner

14. sailing-to-byzantium

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