RETURN Of The Painter is the title for David Baumforth's summer solo show, running at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, until July 21.

"It feels right to be back in York with this collection," says the York-born artist, whose home studio is at Snainton, near Scarborough. "My last collection was very well received, and though that has been gratifying, success or lack of it can be a distraction. I paint how I've always painted, and that's with a focus on the truth of what I see in front of me. The Yorkshire moors and its coastline are a constant source of inspiration.

"This latest collection is testament to that, so I feel no need for change. I’m always happy to exhibit them in According To McGee as Greg and Ails [McGee] have such terrific enthusiasm for painting of quality."

"These mellow words are a far cry from the 'straight-talking, short-tempered' Baumforth of yore, an irascible artist whose reputation as the 'Bernard Manning of the art world' went before him," says gallery co-director Greg McGee, who nevertheless is keen to distance himself from that comparison.

"David Baumforth played a big part in our first ever exhibition 15 years ago, and though he has mellowed over the years, and we have most certainly seen him lose his temper with one or two characters, he is at heart a lovely guy.

"His painting is increasingly sensitive and visionary, and he has, like all real artists, not stopped yearning for creative truth. His North East coast depictions crackle with light and energy."

Greg continues: "I think maybe he has this reputation because, in an ever more sensitive and outraged world, he speaks bluntly and without apology.

"Nor has he ever sold himself to the 'chatterati' with political statements or concept art. He is a painter and he has for decades refined his craft until he can harness the North East sunrise and glittering spume with more flair than most twenty-somethings. Painting is alive and well, and David is in the front seat."

Co-director Ails McGee agrees, pointing to Baumforth's new collection as vindication. "I curated this exhibition single handedly and I can honestly say it's been the easiest process I've known. The work has pretty much curated itself, and it feels so contemporary and relevant!" she says.

"We're a modern art gallery and always try to be progressive, but that's not to say that when you're given painting of this quality by an artist of such calibre as David Baumforth, then you turn to something that has all 'cool police' frothing at the mouth.

"This is, by any standards, excellent painting from a painter at the top of his game with local place names shot right through the collection: Ravenscar, Whitby, Scarborough, Robin Hood's Bay.

"We feel much more comfortable celebrating this than whacking a few headphones on the wall, installing a barely coherent video, and getting just as puzzled as the browser. Unlike conceptual art, you can buy it and take it home."

Assessing why Baumforth's artwork sells so well, Greg says: "David does not try and second guess anyone. He paints beautiful things with an instantly recognisable flair that puts him above his contemporaries, and there are enough collectors out there with with that instinct for excellence to keep us going. In fact it's getting better."

Ails, meanwhile, is sanguine about the future of galleries. "My advice is find excellent painters and then help nourish them with exhibitions," she says, before one last thought on Baumforth's impact.

"The Return Of The Painter has, almost by definition, been a battle cry, and David Baumforth fits that attitude perfectly. Once the hype and reputation clears away, you're faced with paintings that still bristle with beauty. The Turner of the North? Yes, definitely. I'd go beyond that, and say that no painter alive in the UK can bottle the slippery nature of dying light better than David Baumforth."

Charles Hutchinson