It’s not often that I come across a painting that vibrates.

I don’t mean literally, as in a work engineered for actual physical movement, or one that plays with both a viewer’s perception and a picture’s surface in the style of Op Art.
It’s painting that feels somehow imbued with an intangible, primordial force, that pulls me in and leaves me reeling, dazzled by something utterly foreign yet instantly recognizable.

I’ve been thinking about this since viewing the work in “Touching the Land: Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Australia,” a small exhibit of paintings and artifacts on display at Berkeley’s Dominican College of Philosophy & Theology.

Organized by curator and artist Virginia May, who owns The Painted Door, a Petaluma gallery specializing in aboriginal art, this exhibit stems from her desire to expose people to an art form she’s been passionate about since her introduction to it decades ago in the deserts of Australia, she says.

“The aboriginal art movement is a movement that’s connected to real primitive ways of using art that’s really different from the Western model ” that art is a commodity and artists are like stars,” May says. “The art comes from their community and their ancestors and it comes through the spiritual way of connecting with the land.”