Photo by Bagus Tri Laksono
Aspiring to be an ambassador since he was 13 years old, Brazil ambassador to Indonesia Rubem Antonio Corrêa Barbosa feels that his determination to be a diplomat is as strong as his passion for music. The ambassador lives with his wife, Lenise Corrêa Barbosa, in a modern 90’s two-storey residence filled with vinyl collection and art pieces from the Northern hemisphere, Canada, to the very Southern hemisphere, Australia.
The house was built in 1996 by an Indonesian- born Chinese-Brazilian architect Khing Swie George. The façade reflects the grandeur of the interior, which reminds you of Brazilian’s legendary architect Oscar Niemeyer’s works that shaped the country’s architecture style today.
Entering the foyer, the famous ‘Sabung Ayam’ painting by Indonesian maestro Affandi Koesoema made a striking welcome. Marble paneled flooring bridges you to the rest of the house that is very Brazilian yet diverse in details. On the first floor, the couple set up three living rooms, a study room, a dining room, a swimming pool and a music room for the ambassador to keeps his private music collections.
Hanging in the main living room is a subdued- colour painting by Brazilian artist Carlos Bracher. It portrays white colonial buildings from the 18th century pervading Ouro Preto city due to Portuguese colonization, which creates a powerful contrast with the rest of the house.
As you turn around, the main living room painted in red allows you to distinguish that each room actually represents Brazil national flag. “The previous ambassador had the wall this way to represent Brazil’s national flag and I kept it as it was,” Rubem Barbosa says, “but our personal touch is mostly the art pieces we brought from our travel, and the music room.”
Visiting the first living room on the right side of the foyer, the ambassador painted the wall in yellow nuances. A set of red couches is matched, elevating the atmosphere of the area. However, hiding at the corner of the living room is the ambassador’s jewel, stacks of vinyl collection of blues, jazz, latin, pop to rock music. “I probably have collected 300 original pieces of vinyls in total,” the ambassador says while showing some of his favorite vinyls. This is not surprising since Brazil is home for bright musicians such as Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. However, no one would expect that his favourites include the 1969’s Led Zeppelin and the 12X5 by Rolling Stone.
His wife agreed. She said that the ambassador keeps the rest of his collection in his music room where he also kept a drum set to practice. The ambassador’s music room is painted white surrounded by 1500 CDs, books and music posters he bought mainly from record stores in New York.
“I used to learn and practice via Youtube,” he says, “I think if I could make money out of playing the drum, I would just be a professional musician.” The ambassador was quite serious with his passion. In Brasilia, he played for a blues band for 10 years – from 2000 to 2010, he published one music album before he was posted in Australia.
Beside the music room is the family room, where the wall and couches are coordinated in dark blue shades, with glass panel windows facing the pool to allow natural light in. The ambassador said that they would sometimes hold a casual lunch on the weekends and turn the room into a dining area for 30 people.
On the other side of the swimming pool is the main living room in a striking red hue. But the main feature in the living room is an iconic metallic pillar soaring to the second floor, that gives ambiance lighting from the inside. “This big living room is unique, and the pillar is iconic,” he says. “We are lucky that through the glass window is a pool view and a green golf course.”
On the right side of the living room is the dining room, painted in green and contrasted with a white crown ceiling, dedicated to the ambassador’s diplomatic banquets. The dining table sits 10. Rubem Barbosa mentioned that most of the porcelain plates are from the Portuguese porcelain manufacturer Vista Alegre.
Lenise Barbosa said that another art piece from the porcelain brand that she like is metallic-colour porcelain owls she bought in Portugal. Another interesting artwork with Portuguese-themed in mind is a series of oil paitings of Lisbon by retiring Brazilian diplomat Sergio Telles that hang at the corner of the main living room. “We like Portugal. We were there three years,” she says. “We even bought a desk, lamp, and an antique leather sofa we put in his study room.”
Resonating the dining room, the ambassador’s study room located between the main enterance and the side enterance, is also painted in green. Beside the antique sofa, he keeps his vinyl turntable player along with a set of sound system, favorite books, and an antique pendulum clock with his initials.
There is nothing Brazilian in this room,” he laughs. “But this clock is special because my wife gave it to me 15 years ago, with my initial on it, and it’s a nice classic thing to have in this working environment.”
As he put on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Stone Flower album on his vinyl turntable by the window, he shared his philosophy of collecting vinyl, “The reason is the quality of what’s under the cover. I think that is very important for everything.”