Riel Hilario was born Ronald Jaramillo Hilario in 1976 in Vigan Ilocos Sur. He is a fourth generation woodworker from the Jaramillos of San Vicente Ilocos Sur. He studied visual arts at the Philippine High School for the Arts as a state scholar and eventually took up painting and art history courses from the University of the Philippines.
While his first solo show in 1996 up to 2001 featured paintings and drawings, Hilario has perennially worked with hand-carved wood sculpture. he shifted to wood carving in 2002 even as he was a curator for galleries like Boston Gallery and Pinto Ar Gallery. He was selected as one of the representatives of artists from Luzon in the NCCA project Sungdu-an from which he received a grant to produce Iconologia (2003), which was shown in several galleries in the country, including the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Hilario decided to focus on full-time art practice (sculpture) in 2008. The following year he presented his series Aniwaas at Art Informal. This was followed by two more solo shows in 2010 – BaroBalasang at Art Informal and If an Apostle Looks In No Monkey can Look Out and Astral Projections (2011) both at The Drawing Room Contemporary Art in Makati City. Since then his work has appeared in shows and art fairs abroad namely, in Singapore (ArtStage 2011 and 2012) Hong Kong(HKArt11), Delhi (India Art Summit ‘11), London (Stories of Dreams and Realities, Rossi & Rossi Gallery), Basel (ScopeBasel 2011) and Jakarta (Lintas, Edwin Gallery, 2011). He also had solo exhibitions in Paris (2012), New York and Singapore (2013), following a spate of residencies and grants.
Hilario is represented by The Drawing Room Contemporary Art.
He is a winner of the 2012 Ateneo Art Awards: Sneak Peak. He is also amomg the eight national winners of the Philippine Art Awards in 2012. He has also won residency grants to Paris through the Philippine Artist Residency Program of Alliance Française de Manille (2012) and to New York and Malaysia (2013) courtesy of the Asian Cultural Council. He has been named Elizabeth McCormack and Jerome Aron Fellow with regards to his ACC grant. The Cultural Center of the Philippines has also named the artist as among the awardees of the Thirteen Artist Awards in 2012.
The artist lives and works in Antipolo City, Rizal in the Philippines.