From the mid-19th century to the 1940s, Baie-Saint-Paul and the Charlevoix region were a major destination for visitors. Alongside vacationers seeking the ocean breeze, artists of all backgrounds flocked to the beauty of the landscape and the traditional way of life. Yet, by the end of the 1970s, there was little trace of this dynamic mix of tourists and artists. Baie-Saint-Paul was no longer a major magnet for the arts. Would reconnecting with the past by demystifying the present guarantee a brighter future? Baie-Saint-Paul began to search for an identity in the context of a public that had long been alienated from contemporary art.
This two-fold desire to revive the city’s artistic vocation and rebuild bridges between the public and contemporary art led to the creation of the Symposium in 1982. A major challenge, with extraordinary results! The “artist’s paradise” of bygone days is now a flourishing “city of art” where novices discover and enthusiasts delight.
AN EVOLVING FORMULA
While the Symposium’s original objective of bringing creators and the public closer together has not changed, and it continues to feature up-and-coming artists and to highlight painting, it has undergone some changes over the years. Far from static and frozen in time, it provides a space for innovation, trial and error.
Just like the creators it welcomes, the Symposium has never stopped experimenting with new avenues and redefining itself. Humanist concerns, questions of aesthetics, social and environmental issues have all served to inspire. Painting now shares the stage with sculpture, photography, graffiti, computer graphics, video and performance, among others.
What does tomorrow hold? What issues will the Symposium tackle next? What new paths will it take? One thing remains unchanged—the presence of the artist and the public. And if its raison d'être is to promote dialogue between the two, then the Baie-Saint-Paul International Symposium of Contemporary Art has many great years to look forward to in making contemporary art accessible.