Richard Downs’ work is difficult to categorize within a time period. His roughly textured prints and paintings are reminiscent of drawings that an archeologist might have discovered on a cave wall, yet they’re imbued with a touch of modernism. Working primarily with a limited palette of black and red, often on creamy handmade Japanese paper, his aesthetic is a combination of organic, bleeding colors and shapes formed from intricately repeated black lines. With this understated, earthy style, Grass Valley-based Downs visualizes human relationships in the solo show Connections, which is currently on view at Transmission Gallery (770 West Grand Ave., Oakland). The show consists of a long series of numbered “Couple” portraits in which two figures appear intimately intertwined. The series offers intriguing variation through the inclusion of large, hanging, wire sculptures that bring the dark lines of Downs’ prints off the paper in three dimensions. The medium adds a depth to the depictions, as the wires leave tangled shadows like scribbles on the wall. Viewed from different angles, the faces embedded within one another emerge in varying compositions of overlapping wires — a striking visual metaphor for the complexities and nuances of interpersonal relationships.