Raised in San Tomé de Guyana, Alirio Palacios was not particularly interested in theoretical studies as a boy, preferring to draw and paint instead. From 1954 to 1960 he studied in Caracas at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Rojas. He also studied graphic design at night. After working as an illustrator in Budapest’s Communist Youth Newspaper, Palacios decided to study in China. In 1961, as the Cultural Revolution was underway, he entered the woodcut school at Peking’s University of Fine Arts. Among his teachers were Li Hua and Li Co Yan who taught him wood cutting and printing and further advanced his skills in drawing and painting.
In 1966 Palacios returned to Caracas and concentrated on drawing and painting. He did not resume printmaking until the 1980’s in New York where he found he could get adequate papers and pigments in Chinatown. From 1968 to 1970 Palacios spent time in Warsaw, attending the Academy of Fine Arts where he studied with professor Henryk Tomaszewski in the lithography and mezzotint departments. From 1972 to 1975 Palacios lived in Switzerland, where he studied at the Centre Genevois de Gravure Contemporaine. A true master of the mezzotint, he taught the technique at the University of Art in Geneva.
Returning to Caracas in 1975, Palacios decided not to travel for a while. He became part of the Consejo Nacional de Cultura's graphic arts team and he was also the artistic director of the National Magazine of Culture. In 1985, Palacios was named as the cultural consultant at the Venezuelan consulate in New York and soon after, he opened his own studio in SoHo.
In collaboration with the Taller de Artistas Gráficos (TAGA) in Caracas, Palacios has made oil-based woodcuts, usually in a large-format made up of four large sheets of paper.