ACCORDING To McGee will celebrate the "elemental energy of the north" in its early-autumn exhibition, Elementals: David Baumforth and Freya Horsley, at the Tower Street gallery in York from Saturday.

"It's not as enigmatic as it sounds,", says gallery co-director Greg McGee. "Anyone who has spent time on the moors or on the Yorkshire coast knows that there's a unique light and texture to these northern climes, and we're just tipping the hat to that."

Baumforth and Horsley's double bill marks a return to exhibiting paintings at According To McGee after a summer of experimental neon, framed urban prints and performance art.

Greg, however, is quick to dismiss the notion that paintings are safer territory for a gallery. "People have been telling me that painting is a dead medium for 25 years, but over the past 13 years we've more than proved that rumours of painting's demise have been greatly exaggerated," he says.

"Since we opened in 2004, and especially now, we're selecting painters who match all the verve and fresh-off-the-block energy of brand new graduates. A lot of that is down to their innate skills, as both David Baumforth and Freya Horsley are excellent painters, by any standard."

Co-director Ails McGee agrees, saying: "Both painters have produced new collections that show they're at the top of their game, and we've had collectors already showing interest before the show goes up. What's especially gratifying is that this show hammers home just how rude the health is of contemporary painting. In many ways, this exhibition is as much a celebration of contemporary painting as it is of the two artists and the north."

York Press:

Artist Freya Horsley at According To McGee, York

The front gallery will house the Elementals show, while According To McGee's back gallery will continue to showcase urban art. "Browsers and collectors can see that there's a synergy between painting and its more modern counterparts," says Greg. "Indeed in many ways, painting is more relevant and competitive than ever.

"You only need to stand for a minute in front of David and Freya's latest works, with their bristling, restless mark making and their darkly glowing colour schemes, to know you're witnessing art as edgy as anything you'll see at a Biennale."

Baumforth, whose studio is in Snainton near Scarborough, is looking forward to his return to his native York. “It feels right to be exhibiting in a duo show in York at this stage of my career, especially with such a talented artist as Freya Horsley."

Fresh from participating in last weekend's glorious Staithes Festival, where she exhibited in the front room of a friend's cottage, York artist Horsley concurs. "There's a theme of openness, space and movement that runs through all the work, but we've each approached it quite differently in our use of paint, colour and even mood. There's a feeling that we're talking the same language but definitely not in the same voice."

Ails reckons Elementals adds up to a good start to the McGee autumn. "It's a coup for us and for the city. Both painters are nationally important. David Baumforth is widely recognised as the Turner of the North; Freya Horsley is as keenly collected in Yorkshire as she is in Cornwall, with her latest collection leading to pre-exhibition sales. The work looks magical, and we're looking forward to seeing a whole new wave of collectors over the next few weeks."

Elementals: Contemporary Depictions Of The North, featuring David Baumforth and Freya Horsley, runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from Saturday to October 17.