Valencia’s master of workplace absenteeism pulls another fast one

Authorities cancel art show after realizing author is ex-employee who claimed salary for 10 years without turning up to work

Some pieces from the Carles Recio exhibit, a bust and a portrait of himself.
Some pieces from the Carles Recio exhibit, a bust and a portrait of himself.I. Z.

Valencia authorities have canceled an art exhibition by a government worker who was fired last year after taking home a paycheck for 10 years without actually doing any work.

The city of Valencia pulled the plug on the show, which was scheduled to open Wednesday in a municipal exhibition space, after realizing that the artist was none other than Carles Recio, whose case made media headlines in Spain last year.

Recio had already made a name for himself as a reactionary thinker and erotic cartoonist who also ran an all-male brothel

Recio had used a phony identity to book the showroom, where he was planning to put on an art show filled with depictions of himself. The show was aptly titled Amor a Valencia. Los trabajos de un hombre que nunca trabajó, or, Love for Valencia: the works of a man who never worked.

The show also described Recio as “the most slandered writer in modern-day Valencia.”

The items on display included paintings, sculptures, diplomas and information panels that took up four floors of the building. There was a portrait of Recio and even a bronze bust with his features. All the material has since been taken down.

A painting in the canceled exhibition.
A painting in the canceled exhibition.

Municipal records show that the request for the exhibition space was filed on May 5, 2017 by an association and two private individuals, one of whom wrote that he wanted to display his own “photographs, paintings and sculptures.”

A city spokesman from the department in charge of this exhibition space said that they only realized who the artist was on Wednesday, after reading about it in the digital daily Levante-EMV. A decision was made to cancel the show after concluding that Recio “is once again trying to deceive public institutions.”

Recio made national headlines last year after it emerged that between 2006 and 2016 he had only shown up at his post as “head of bibliography” at a provincial archive to stamp his time card. He is under investigation for workplace absenteeism after provincial authorities reported the case to Valencia prosecutors. His salary was in the range of €50,000 a year.

Flaming oranges

By then, however, Recio had already made something of a name for himself in the Valencia region as a reactionary thinker and erotic cartoonist who also ran an all-male brothel inside the home he once shared with his ex-wife.

The super-heroin dreamed up by Recio.
The super-heroin dreamed up by Recio.

The canceled exhibition portrayed an idealized version of Recio’s life, avoiding all its controversial chapters. In his show, he described himself as an intellectual reference point for blaverismo in 1980s Spain, alluding to a conservative regional movement that supported the acknowledgment of Valencian as a distinct language from Catalan.

The exhibition also noted that Recio wrote a “differential Valencian-Catalan dictionary” as well as novels, poetry, research work, plays and the speeches for several heads of the provincial authority.

But Recio’s best-known work was probably as a cartoonist who created characters such as Fallarela, a super-heroine with a generous cleavage who hurled oranges in flames at her enemies.

His political relations with Valencia conservatives were permanently damaged in 2005, when it emerged that he was running a male brothel in the house he had once shared with his wife. The ads for the bordello offered “excellent air-conditioned facilities” and “absolute discretion.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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