If renaissance art was dedicated to the primacy of the content of the piece over the structural elements of the piece, Cezanne began to transform this orientation, by putting his interpretations of the structural elements of nature into the foreground of his work, and subtly shifting the emphasis away from content as the primary meaning and significance of the piece. The placing of importance onto the interplay of structures and forms-unto-themselves, without as much of the sentimental baggage of images as heroic portraits of human beings and their stories, was a great "liberating instant" (Adi Da's term) in human consciousness. This drew attention to shape itself as meaning, as opposed to the assertion of human narrative as the most important meaning. And this freed up the artist to explore whole new domains of abstraction and pure form, or shape for its own sake.
Warner's particular methods of stylization and simplification of boundary and texture, combined with his unique interpretations of color and color reactions, became a kind of release of new energy in his work; the details of landscape and architecture became dismembered from their exclusive meanings as possibly known places, and devolved into the kind of playful interactions of discrete and abstracted forms seen in the work of Kandinsky and Frank Lobdell.
In addition, Warner's methods of collage and abstraction released structure and form in his work, and created a critical threshold of structural complexity and interactions, similar in structural density to Willem De Kooning and Jackson Pollock.
But Warner's use of abstraction does not lead the viewer wholly away from strong emotional associations with the places, or "West Coast dream worlds", that are so vividly portrayed. In fact, there is an unmistakable sense of atmosphere and implied drama in his paintings, not unlike similar moods provoked by Edward Hopper, De Chirico and Rene Magritte. Warner's art works at the level of mood, tone and atmosphere, like very few other painters of any era, and the combined sensations of atmosphere and nostalgia in his work can be quite overwhelming. It seems that Warner has slyly succeeded at bridging the best of two worlds: the worlds of representation and abstraction.
Warner has often told me of the importance of creating a sense of space and light in his work. His ultimate inspiration in this respect is Vermeer. In such paintings by Warner as "White Bronco" or "Smokestacks" the quality of light that one experiences in Central or Southern California emanates from the canvases. Warner's extraordinary skill with color reactions, and what he calls "recessional space", generates a tangible sense of the natural light on the West Coast.