Set against the dramatic hills of Rio de Janeiro, Adriana Varejão’s recently renovated home brings the architect’s vision to startling new life.
I am invited to dinner by Varejão and Buarque. I’m curious to see the house as it was intended: full of people, made imperfect by a kind of kinetic carelessness. When I arrive, open bottles of wine sweat in an ice bucket beneath a Lygia Clark painting. I sag into a leather chair by Lina Bo Bardi. Varejão serves a traditional meal that we eat on a large dining table made by Sergio Rodrigues — picadinho (beef stew) and baked fish, rice and beans, a banana purée, fried quail’s eggs, and chopped cabbage from the countryside garden of Varejão’s friends, the filmmaker Walter Salles and his wife, the artist Maria Klabin. Varejão and Buarque’s friends are artists, singers, musicians, writers — we discuss everything from João Guimarães Rosa’s Joycean novel “The Devil to Pay in the Backlands” (1956) to the pessimism that surrounds Brazilian politics today.
Modernism may have become an empty expression of bourgeoisie taste, but here it feels reinvigorated, charged. I’m told many times that I must visit Brasília, which is less than two hours away by plane.