James Ensor, inspired by light

By now, everyone knows that in 2024 it will be 75 years since the painter James Ensor passed away in Ostend. To mark this occasion, numerous festive events have already taken place in the city. One of the biggest and most spectacular performances of the year is now underway:

A unique and impressive ‘immersive experience
At the Dominican Church on Christinastraat in Ostend, an immersive light experience about the life and work of James Ensor is currently running. You are literally immersed in the spirit of James Ensor during a never-before-seen light spectacle. James Ensor’s drawings and paintings captivate everyone’s imagination. Who was James Ensor? You are, so to speak, literally in the midst of a stunning animated film. You experience Ensor’s life, his paintings come to life, masks wink, still lifes come into motion, processions march through the city… Prepare yourself for the most enchanting experience of the year. An experience full of art, light, and imagination. The Dominican Church is transformed into a world of color and movement. You step into a living canvas. It’s a journey through the creative mind. His masterpieces come to life in an exceptional and captivating way.

The Dominican Church: an extraordinary heritage site
This church is located within walking distance of the Grote Post, at 95 Christinastraat. The Dominicans came to Ostend in 1873. The construction of a neo-Gothic church designed by Auguste Van Assche began at the end of 1882. The church was dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena. By 1883, the church was completed. This neo-Gothic church was inspired by the demolished Dominican Church in Ghent in 1860, hence elements of the Scheldt Gothic are also present in the building. It is a single-aisled hall church with a gable roof.

Currently, no services are held in the church, and it is no longer accessible to the public. It is therefore an additional opportunity to admire this church from the inside. For this ‘immersive experience,’ careful consideration was given to integrating the church building into the light experience.

Urban Mapping, the creator and executor of this unique event
Urban Mapping was founded under the leadership of Alexander Stragier, 29 years old but already 11 years professionally active in the world of projection, in short, a creative technologist. Among his achievements are the Young Innovation Award (2013), cultural ambassador of the city of Roeselare (2014), the Bill Award (2015), Urban Crafter (2015), One Minute Mapping Award (Leffingeleuren 2018), Starter of the Year Award (2022), etc. He currently leads a team of 7 people. With Urban Mapping, they bring stories to life using the magic of projection during unique audiovisual city walks. There have already been walks in Menen, Wervik, Aalst, Willebroek, and Ypres. Alexander and his team developed new projection units for these city walks. These projection units are suitable for all weather conditions, vandal-resistant, elegant, and space-saving. Through remote monitoring and operation, they ensure a carefree experience. Urban Mapping is also the organizer of “De Lumineuze Nachten” whose editions took place at Rodenbach Brewery, the park of Edingen, and the castle de Haar in Utrecht. He also collaborated with the Hans Anderson festival in Odense (Denmark). Creativity and service are central at Urban Mapping: they are your partner for the entire creative process and also provide all technical support for each project. More information can be found on their website

Art and technology
With the passionate animation team, Alexander had the ambitious goal of bringing to life the life and beautiful artworks of James Ensor. They were determined to capture his unique vision, expression, and artistic flair in vibrant animations that would enchant the audience.

By combining traditional animation techniques with cutting-edge AI algorithms, the characteristic brushstrokes, colors, and shapes of Ensor’s paintings are transformed into moving images. The goal was to bridge and connect art and technology, and to make James Ensor’s artworks accessible to a wide audience.

Practical information:
Location: Dominican Church, Christinastraat 95, Ostend Advance reservation is highly recommended: once a time slot is full, no additional persons will be admitted. Reservations can be made via the website You first select the date, then the time slot. We recommend everyone to arrive 15 minutes in advance. Each session starts at the exact time, and latecomers will not be admitted.

Public transportation:
The tram/bus stops 350 m from the event location (take the Marie-Joséplein stop) Or attend the performance by train and receive a 50% discount on a round-trip ticket to Ostend Station (discovery ticket).
The station is located 520 m from the event location. Going by car? Then park closest at the Zeeparking, this parking is located opposite the Leopoldpark, next to the old post office building. Note: this parking is paid.
Free parking is available at Parking Maria Hendrikapark | Graaf de Smet de Naeyerlaan. This free parking in Ostend has around 300 free parking spaces and has no time limit. It’s about a 10-minute walk (720 m) on foot.

Rates at the door:
Children up to 4 years old: free (without a ticket)
Children up to 12 years old: €13
Regular: €18.5

Tickets online:
Children up to 4 years old: free (without a ticket)
Children up to 12 years old: €10.99
Regular: €15.99

Text: GDL – photos: