Zumeta entered at the age of fourteen to work at Gráficas Valverde de San Sebatián, as a graphic designer.
His passion for painting led him to the School of Arts and Crafts of San Sebastian and to the classes taught by the Artists Association of Gipuzkoa. At the age of 19 he won the National Gold Medal in the Young Painting Competition held in Madrid.
In his eagerness to get to know the artistic avant-garde, he went to Paris in 1959. This experience will determine his subsequent artistic career, as he had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the latest trends of the international avant-garde.
A year later he returned to the Basque Country and settled in Hondarribia, where he began working with the sculptor Remigio Mendiburu and participated in his first collective exhibition in San Sebastian.
Between 1962 and 1963 he lived in Stockholm and London.
In 1965 he participated in the founding of the group Gaur, together with Jorge Oteiza, Eduardo Chillida, Remigio Mendiburu, Nestor Basterretxea, Rafael Ruis Balerdi, Kind Arias and Sistiaga, a group that, during the Franco dictatorship, was born with the intention of recovering the dialogue and the relationship with the international avant-garde and that ended up becoming a pioneer in many artistic aspects and a point of reference on an international scale of the Basque artistic activity of the moment.
Jose Luis Zumeta has been considered one of the most representative artists of the Basque Country of the postwar period. His works are present in important museums both in the Basque Country (Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian, Artium in Vitoria-Gasteiz) and abroad (Concordia Museum in Santiago de Chile).