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In his lifetime, artist Ding Yanyong was called both the “Oriental Matisse” and the “Modern Bada Shanren,” after the Chinese individualist painter born Zhu Da (1629-1705). The combination of the epithets obviously reflects Ding’s (1902-78) ability to straddle the East and West, but given a little historical distance, Matisse and Bada feel much like boundaries that circumscribe the artist. Hence, the title of exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, which marks the 30th anniversary of the artist’s passing, “No Frontiers,” feels inappropriate.

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