Jose Luis Zumeta was born in Usurbil , Guipúzcoa, in 1939.
At 14, he begins his work as graphic artist, studying later at the School of Arts and Crafts and the Asociación de Artistas of Guipuzcoa. At 19, he wins the gold medal at the at the National Young Painting competition in Madrid,
To avoid Franco’s regime isolationism, he moves to Paris in 1959. There he will first-hand know the current international avant-gardes, something that will have a deep impact on him. During his stay in Paris he will be interested in abstract expressionism, artists such as De Kooning, Pollock, Dubuffet… and European groups such as the Cobra. Also, in the French capital he will befriend Basque artists such as R.Ruiz Balerdi, J.A Sistiaga and JM Ortiz.
In 1960 he returns to the Basque Country and settles in Hondarribia, where he begins to work with the sculptor Remigio Mendiburu.
Between 1962 and 1963 he lives in Stockholm and London. His work is marked by an abstraction based in horizontal stripes of pure colors. He will soon abandon this path introducing in his painting undulating and organic shapes.
In 1965 he is a founding member of the GAUR group, alongside Jorge Oteiza, Eduardo Chillida, Remigio Mendiburu, Nestor Basterretxea, Rafael Ruiz Balerdi, Amable Arias and Sistiaga. This group is born with the idea of recovering the dialogue and the relationship with the international avant-garde, something difficult during Franco’s regime, and ended being a pioneering force and a reference in terms of recognition of the Basque artistic activity on an international level.
In 1967 he wins the first prize at the Gran Premio de Pintura Vasca with his work “Homenaje al Gernika de Picasso”. From them on he will be commissioned several public works in Irún (1968), Usurbil (1973), Pasajes (1974), San Sebastián (1976) or Zarautz (1986), among other places.
In the 70s his work will be featured in a group exhibition in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico as well as in a show in New York focused in young Spanish artists. During this decade he collaborates in several cultural meetings in the Basque Country and Navarre and begins his teaching activity in different ikastolas (Basque schools).
Since the 8’s, he increases his exhibitions in galleries as well as in public institutions nationally (Bilbao, San Sebastian, Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Oviedo, Valencia…) and internationally (Prague, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Evanton or New York).
Jose Luis Zumeta is one of the most representative artists of the post-war Basque painting. His work is present in important museums such as: Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Museo San Telmo de San Sebastián, Museo Artium de Vitoria-Gasteiz, Museo de la Concordia in Santiago de Chile…
In 2020 Zumeta passed away while working in his studio.