1 Jean-Pierre Larocque at the Gardiner Museum
Larocque's astonishing technique, building assemblages of layered, textured clay, results in sculptures whose physicality is reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism. His breathtaking warriors, horses and larger-than-life ceramic heads are unforgettable. Haunting drawings testify to the artist's ingenuity and wild creativity.
2 Andy Warhol/supernova: Stars, deaths and disaSters 1962-64 at the AGO (curated by David Cronenberg)
Despite the almost creepy seriousness and stuffy academic tenor of this show, Cronenberg's commentary proved an eye-opener for anyone struggling to unravel the mystery of Andy Warhol - and that would be most of us. It's not every day you get to view Warhol's signature Car Wrecks silkscreens as the director of Crash intones dryly in your ear.
3 Justine Kurland at Monte Clark
Kurland's prints are a feminist take on Burroughs's wild boys: C prints of feral adolescent girls roving bleak semi-industrial landscapes. Most compelling is how Kurland manages to maintain the wanton dreaminess of her subjects as they teeter on the edge of something dark and catastrophic.
4 Anthony Goicolea at Monte Clark
Goicolea creates otherworldly tableaux, luscious digitally composed large-scale colour photographs that depict rites of passage oozing homoeroticism.
5 Patrick Decoste at Spin Gallery
DeCoste paints anatomically accurate figures with subtle muscle tone and frozen gestures, showing his knowledge of art history and painterly craft. His earth-toned palette of moss green, chocolate brown and creamy white has a meditative quality, and his surfaces are amazingly opulent for acrylic paint.
6 JESS DOBKIN at Ontario College of Art & Design Professional Gallery
The Lactation Station Milk Bar opened OCAD's new Professional Gallery, transforming it into a bar setting with a menu of six different women's breast milk. We sampled two kinds, one sweet like soya milk, another that tasted like medicine. Dobkin uses our discomfort with tasting breast milk to challenge society's views and judgment of women's bodies.
7 Darkness Ascends at MOCCA
This show, which ran at the height of summer, was all about dragging every perverse and disturbing human tendency writhing out of the darkness and into the light. It gathered artists from all over the world and, most important, gave tattoo artists their place in the contemporary pantheon. A memorable, genre-bending romp of a show.
8 Carlos Garaicoa at the ROM
This intellectually astute series of installations by the rising art star from Cuba plays with the relationship of architecture to 20th-century ideologies and urban decay. Garaicoa's architect's models, pop-up books, paper lanterns and photos can be alternately charming, tragic and frightening.
9 KIM DORLAND at Angell Gallery
Combining searing use of colour and an assured and sculptural approach that blends both figurative and Abstract Expressionistic elements, Dorland is one of the strongest painters to emerge from the Toronto scene in years. His show at Angell, featuring abject Saskatchewan teenagers drinking, drugging and duking it out in the Canadian wilderness, was a visual tribute to the grunge generation, told in gritty, painterly strokes.
10 MIKE BAYNE at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects
Bayne's tiny paintings have a Jim Jarmusch quality. A feeling of isolation and emptiness drips from his hyperrealist series Houses, Stripmalls, Fields & Factories. His paintings are fresh and somehow buoyant even in their starkness.
Art & Activism at YYZ
Its heart was in the right place, but this show didn't have quite enough content to fulfill its promise. Except for the hacktivism workshops, Daniel Jolliffe's movable free speech mobile and Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge's series of arresting workplace photos, this show was unsubtle and slapdash enough to make Michael Moore cringe.