Julião Sarmento's solo exhibitions at Lisson Gallery in the early 2000s included 'Doppelgänger' (January - March) 2002 as well as 'The Players' (February to March) 2006. His first exhibition, Doppelgänger, made clear that both mediums of film and painting allowed Sarmento to fully explore the themes of his work. The work delved into the notion of repetition and highlighted an incidental moment that appears the same but not the same; the simultaneous existence of doing the same things over and over. Of double identity or déja vu.

"The figure of the doppelgänger appears in fiction at the end of the eighteenth century. They are ‘double-goers’ or ‘double-walkers’, the convincing double of an individual or a wraith-like figure bearing the likeness of a living being. Whilst initially associated with protection, the figure of the doppelgänger has been transformed into a vindictive harbinger of death and devastation. The series of large-scale paintings on show feature women not unlike the ones in the video projection. Figures dressed in black dresses stand astride buckets, their heads and feet truncated.

That the doppelgänger is often seen as a shadow is apposite here as each of these figures is attended by a wraith-like penumbra, a reworked and almost erased outline that prevails behind the manifest image. The underlying tension of a smudged out figure – a sign of uncertainty and displacement – is heightened by the decisiveness of the graphite-rendered image. The latter tangible outline is, however, in constant danger of being supplanted by that which lies within or outside of it, just as an actual doppelgänger or double foreshadows the usurpation of the self. It is these recurrences, erasures and repetitions in Sarmento’s work that imply that the doubling of something is never mere repetition but the problematisation of both identity and visual demarcation."

Anthony Downey, 'Julião Sarmento', Contemporary, March 2002