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17th-century Chinese artist Bada Shanren held a multitude of titles, but his inner life remains mysterious. Born under the Ming dynasty to a high-society family, Shanren lived as a Buddhist monk and calligrapher before turning his attention to painting. Shanren’s style for calm but energetic paintings reflected the tumultuous mental state of the aristocrat monk. Examine “Lotus and Ducks,” a painting of a scowling fowl with piercing eyes, and you can imagine how rumors of Shanren screaming and making strange noises while he painted could be true. He’s been described by art historians as a prodigy, immensely talented, and deeply soulful. You can attempt to understand him while his work is on display at the Freer, but be warned: Shanren will likely remain an enigma for good. The exhibition is on view daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., to Jan. 3, at the Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. Free. (202) 633-480. asia.si.edu.