While Fredrik Eklund was drawn to a career in the fast-paced world of real estate, his husband, Derek Kaplan, works in a completely different world. The Zimbabwe-born artist spends his days painting instead of brokering deals. Still, his work is definitely influenced by his life with the Million Dollar Listing New York agent in many ways.
While he says he doesn't necessarily create art based on his location (the couple currently live in NYC, have a home in Connecticut, and frequently travel the world together), he noted to The Daily Dish that there are other factors that influence his work. "I would say the quality of the art I make is certainly affected by where I am living, but not the actual art itself. I love New York but there are days I struggle with the noise pollution and when the sky is grey and dead!" he said. "I recall a trip I took with Fred to Fire Island a few summers back, where every day I painted in the direct sunlight and made some really fantastic work. [Our dog] Fritzy even approved by peeing on it when I wasn’t looking! I remember thinking ‘Oh wow, the painting just doubled in value!'"
However, being a kid in Zimbabwe definitely had an early influence on Derek as he loved an artist who painted his home in a way he connected to. "Growing up, my favorite artist was a lady called Joan Evans. She painted the most beautiful landscapes of Zimbabwe, which for me really captured the dreamy soul of Africa. I hope to own one of her paintings one day if I can find one," he said, before citing several other artists that make his list of favorites. "I also love Francis Bacon, who I think is one of the greatest painters of all time. Plus, I have a strange affection for Tracy Emin."
Derek's art certainly does mirror his "dreamy soul." Scrolling through his Instagram, he previews some of his work for those curious to see what he has up his smock, which at times are abstract interpretations and other times are stormy images. And when it comes to his artistic philosophy, Derek knows that you can't please everyone all the time. "I heard a brilliant saying once that said ‘Art is for the mind, paintings are for the soul’! A painting can be this perfect ‘window’ of escape into another dimension," he said. "It can arrest the senses, without the use of words or explanations normally needed for most modern art works. I am also aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so not everyone out there will love what you do, which is perfectly fine!"
And while picking his own favorite piece is nearly difficult, he does have a painting that does hold a special place in his heart. "My favorite pieces tend to change from time to time. I guess it depends on where I am in my life and what is meaningful to me at that stage," he said. "Currently ‘Got My Own Sunshine’ still stands as one of my personal favorites. I think that its message will always be timeless and the same, in that we all possess our own ‘sunshine’ within, ‘sunshine’ being a metaphor for ‘passion’ or ‘happiness’, and even 'peace'."
Check out some more photos of Derek and Fredrik, below.