In 2005, a few years after Mihai Pop and
graduated from art school, they became aware that the Romanian art scene needed a “Plan B.” Public funds supporting art spaces were scant, so they decided to take matters into their own hands. “There was hardly an alternative in Romania in 2005, and we were functioning on a ‘let’s do it’ paradigm,” explains Pop of their initial inspiration to open the gallery.
“If we had operated based on a market study, we would have never started anything in Cluj at that time. However, we saw the potential of the art scene.” After the gallery opened, they realized their instincts had been spot on.
The gallery quickly became the nexus of Romania’s contemporary art scene, bringing together artists, curators, and academics who’d emerged from Cluj’s cohort of universities. But this wasn’t enough to support their creative community financially. “Cluj does not offer the premises for an international career, because of the still limited resources and quite conservative mindset,” he says. So they began to advocate for their artists outside of Romania, too.
A turning point, as Pop recalls, came in 2007 after Plan B debuted the gallery’s program at New York’s Armory Show, and the New York Times featured the gallery in its coverage of the fair. “Due to that publication we suddenly faced a very high demand for that work,” he says. Plan B also opened a second gallery in Berlin in 2008, in order to more consistently advocate for Romanian artists in an art-world capital. “Cluj continues to be our base,” Pop explains, “but the to and fro between the two spaces has triggered the resources vital for the gallery.”