"Everyone wants to understand painting. Why is there not an attempt to understand the song of birds?" O-kaaay... With a statement like that, you're dealing with either a true-blue artist or your average LSD casualty. In this case, thankfully, it's the former -- Tunisian-born artist Benny Narkis. He likes birds, to be sure. But his Picasso-like paintings are primarily of human subjects with doves (or even fish) embedded into the portraits as open-ended symbols. Even without such symbolism, Narkis' fauve-inspired color schemes are enough to convey a palette of emotions. Oh yeah: Narkis served in the Israeli Army, so this is hardly the work of some Starbucks-patronizing hippie. "Shades of Life: The Benny Narkis Collection" opens today at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale (1799 SE 17th St. Cswy., Fort Lauderdale). The exhibit runs through October 31. Call 954-463-3000.